Press Release

VocalEssence Performs ‘Dreams of the Fallen’ to Open 47th Season

Jennifer Weismann


Acclaimed choral ensemble delivers work of veteran and poet in Midwest premiere Oct. 11

MINNEAPOLIS—JULY 28, 2015—What does it mean to live through 21st-century war? Minneapolis-based choral ensemble VocalEssence will stage the Midwest premiere of Dreams of the Fallen, an award-winning piece for chorus, piano and orchestra written by Iraq war veteran and poet Brian Turner and one of choral music’s hottest young composers, Jake Runestad. Dreams of the Fallen captures what it means to survive 21st-century war, combining poetry with music to give voice to the violence that soldiers experience—long after they leave the battlefield. Dreams of the Fallen was originally premiered by the Louisiana Philharmonic in 2013 at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Dreams of the Fallen will be performed October 11, at 4 p.m., at The O’Shaughnessy. Randall Davidson, executive producer of the Northern Voice Festival, will host a 3 p.m. pre-concert conversation with composer Jake Runestad and pianist Jeffrey Biegel.

Runestad composed a piece that encompasses “a broader outlook on war and all who have experienced it, from the view of a soldier,” he told the New York Times in 2012. Using poetry combined with choral music, solo piano and orchestra, each section examines a different aspect of a soldier’s life, from pre-deployment, to life in combat, to a return to society.

Featuring the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers, conducted by Philip Brunelle and G. Phillip Shoultz III; internationally renowned pianist Jeffrey Biegel; soprano Maria Jette; and the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Schrickel; this first performance of the VocalEssence 47th season will also offer hope and healing to a soldier’s experience through other beautiful and mystical pieces, including Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Vaughan Williams’s Toward the Unknown Region.

Tickets for Dreams of the Fallen are available for $20 and up. For more information about this concert and to purchase tickets, please call 651-690-6700 or visit

VocalEssence, called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts—and the choral ensemble that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says “sings magnificently”—is a leading arts organization that impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its initiative programs, contests, and support for innovative art. Regularly featured on “A Prairie Home Companion,” VocalEssence is in demand whenever choral music is required—performing with everyone from the Rolling Stones and Rufus Wainwright to James Earl Jones and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Founded in 1969, VocalEssence has debuted more than 240 commissions and world premieres. For more information, visit