VocalEssence to perform in Mexico City
By Pamela Espeland | 08:22 am
If you want to see the Minnesota Orchestra in August, you’ll have to go to London or South Africa. Same for the Minnesota Chorale, which will send 50 singers to South Africa to perform with the orchestra and a local choir.
And if you want to see the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers in late August and early September, start making your Mexico City travel plans.
VocalEssence has long had a connection to Mexico’s choral community through its annual ¡Cantaré! program, which brings composers from Mexico to Minnesota classrooms. And VocalEssence conductor and founder Philip Brunelle has received Mexico’s prestigious Ohtli Recognition Award.
The 32-voice Ensemble Singers will join the Orquesta Sinfónica de Mineria (OSM) for three concerts in Mexico City. For its 40th season, the OSM will perform all of Beethoven’s symphonies including the Ninth and its famous final choral movement. VocalEssence will sing the “Ode to Joy” and a Brahms motet. For the Brahms, they’ll be joined by an equal number of professional Mexican singers.
In addition to the OSM performances, VocalEssence will present a solo concert of music by U.S. and ¡Cantaré! composers. There will also be an opportunity for the ensemble to meet with university choruses, singing together and performing for each other.
Brunelle sees the Brahms in particular as “a wonderful way our organization can fulfill its mission of bringing cultures together.”
The Mexico City engagement is a feather-in-the-cap addition to VocalEssence’s landmark 50th anniversary season, which begins Aug. 31 with a “Wizard of Oz” community sing at Lake Harriet Bandshell. Associate conductor G. Phillip Shoultz III will lead the crowd in singing familiar and favorite songs. Then, when the sun sets, “The Wizard of Oz” will screen and everyone can sing along to that. Because who doesn’t know “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead?”