• Members of VocalEssence holding black folders and singing with orchestra musicians in front of organ pipes with screen featuring VocalEssence logo in the upper left corner

The Mendelssohns Digital Concert Program

VocalEssence Chorus
VocalEssence Ensemble Singers
VocalEssence Singers Of This Age
Nicholas Chalmers, tenor
Maria Jette, soprano
High School Festival Choir featuring singers from:

Albert Lea High School, Diane Heaney, director
Robbinsdale-Armstrong High School, Stephanie Trump & Corey Cellurale, directors
St . Michael Albertville High School, Joe Osowski & Paige Armstrong, directors

Mary Jo Gothmann, piano
Philip Brunelle, conductor
G . Phillip Shoultz, III, conductor


The name ‘Mendelssohn’ has always been important to me ever since I performed Felix Mendelssohn’s first piano concerto in high school–such rich melodies and splashy fingerwork! Then came his Midsummer Night’s Dream, the oratorio St. Paul and the Songs without Words–music I love performing. In 1983 at the former Guthrie Theater, Vern Sutton created a marvelous pastiche based on Felix’s music for the first VocalEssence benefit, and Libby Larsen’s opera, Barnum’s Bird, was premiered by VocalEssence in 2001 including the aria, Hear Ye, Israel, another Mendelssohn moment. Interestingly, the name ‘Mendelssohn’ has appeared 30 times in concerts over the past 53 years!
But, what about Fanny Mendelssohn, Felix’s elder sister? At age 13 she could play all 24 Preludes from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier by heart and as a child began to write music. However, Fanny was limited by prevailing attitudes of the time toward women; her father wrote to her in 1820 “Music will perhaps become Felix’s profession, while for you it can and must be only an ornament.” Fanny and Felix shared a great passion for music, and he arranged for some of her songs to be published under his name. In all, Fanny composed over 460 pieces of music! In 1829, after a courtship of six years, she married the painter Wilhelm Hensel and in 1830 her only child, Sebastian, was born. Fanny Hensel died in 1847 of complications from a stroke; Felix died less than six months later from the same cause.
As we considered many ways of presenting a concert of both composers,Phillip Shoultz and I felt that it would be most interesting to focus on each one separately; with Fanny: her solo songs, followed by a vocal trio, a double choir work, and a cantata. For Felix: three anthems and his Hymn of Praise (Lobgesang), the final extended movement of his symphony-cantata (Symphony #2). You are in for an evening of delightful music, much of it new to Minnesota audiences but all of it marvelous to hear and enjoy! Hopefully, both Mendelssohns will be heard equally in the years ahead!
—Philip Brunelle, Artistic Director and Founder


Nachtwanderer (Night Wanderer), op. 7, no. 1
Fanny Hensel (1843)
Frühling (Spring), op. 7, no. 3
Fanny Hensel (1846)
Gegenwart (Presence)
Fanny Hensel (1833)
Maria Jette, soloist
Waldruhe (Forest Rest)
Fanny Hensel (1841)
Chloe Johnson, Patricia Kramer, Robert Graham, soloists
Nachtreigen (Night Whirl)
Fanny Hensel (1829)
Hiob (Job)
Fanny Hensel (1831)
Mari Scott, Robin Helgen, Bill Pederson, Michael Schmidt, soloists
Heilig (Holy), Op. 27
Felix Mendelssohn (1846)
Richte mich, Gott (Judge Me, O God), Op. 78, No. 2
Felix Mendelssohn (1843)
Verleih uns Frieden (Grant Us Peace)
Felix Mendelssohn (1831)
Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise)
Felix Mendelssohn (1840)
Nicholas Chalmers, tenor
JoAnna Johnson, soprano
Elsa Buck, soprano II


NACHTWANDERER (NIGHT WANDERER), op. 7, no. 1, Fanny Hensel
Sung in German
I wander through the silent night,
The moon floats with gentle stealth
Out of its dark cloud cover,
And here and there in the valley,
A nightingale awakens,
Then all is gray and silent again.
O wonderful nightsong,
From afar the rushing of a stream,
The soft rustling in the dark trees–
You bewitch my thoughts;
My muddled singing here
Is only like a call from a dream.
—Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
FRÜHLING (SPRING), op. 7, no. 3, Fanny Hensel
Sung in German
Over the garden through the skies,
I hear migratory birds pass,
Bringing the smell of spring,
Everything is beginning to bloom.
I want to rejoice, I want to weep,
This must be spring and love!
All the wonders reappear,
Glistening in the moonlight.
And the moon, the stars agree,
And the grove murmurs it in a dream,
And the nightingales sing:
She is yours, she is yours!
—Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
Sung in German
Everything announces you!
When the majestic sun appears,
I hope you will soon follow.
When you emerge in the garden,
You are the rose of roses,
The lily of lilies at once.
When you rise to dance,
All the stars rise
With you and around you.
Night! And so it is then night!
Now you outshine the moon’s
Lovely, inviting gleam.
You are enticing and lovely,
And the flowers, moon and stars
Worship only you, my sun.
My sun! be also to me
The creator of majestic days
For you give life and eternity.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Sung in German
May your greeting, the rustling of the leaves,
Let my head bow into silent dream,
Let dream rock me into deep slumber,
Let slumber sink me into death.
Hail every breath that fans my cheek!
Hail every ray that smiles upon my forehead,
Already the silent bliss has melted
My entire being into nature.
—Fanny Hensel
Sung in German
The trees are rustling, sweet scents rise and a tender breeze
Surrounds our dreams with a bridal touch.
We walk and celebrate in a familiar embrace,
We celebrate and sing and our echo carries.
Blissful sounds and scents and shimmers,
O holy unity–close in on us softly, softly.
Hello! Hello! How funny it carries through green and night.
Fresh as the air is our thought and happily awake with the
Singing bird is man, free of constraints.
How it shimmers and laughs.
Still! Still! Do not let loud calls disturb the holy celebration,
Let us sing and listen, create how nature has created.
Quiet, wise, approach the circle, come!
Yes, we’re coming, overcome by the holy power of stillness.
So stay peacefully connected because God has brought you here.
And you shall feel together what each individual has thought.
—Wilhelm Hensel
HIOB (JOB), Fanny Hensel
Sung in German
I. Chorus
What is mankind that you should exalt them and set your heart on them?
That you should visit them daily and test them every moment?
II. Arioso (Solo Quartet)
Why do you hide your face?
Will you rush to torment a windblown leaf and chase after dry chaff?
III. Chorus
You have granted me life and favor and your care has preserved my spirit,
And though these things are hidden in your heart,
I rest assured that this is your will.
—Words from the Book of Job
HEILIG (HOLY), OP. 27, Felix Mendelssohn
Sung in German
Holy, holy, holy is God, the Lord Sabaoth!
Every nation proclaims that glorious praise.
Sing Hosanna in the highest.
O blest are they that come in God’s holy name.
Sing Hosanna in the highest.
—from the Ordinary of the Lutheran Mass
RICHTE MICH, GOTT (JUDGE ME, O GOD), OP. 78, NO. 2, Felix Mendelssohn
Sung in German
Bring justice to the people, O God, and strength on my behalf
To stand firm against oppression;
From all that is greedy and unjust deliver me!
For You are the One in whom I take refuge;
Yet, have You abandoned me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of ignorance?
O, send out Your light and Your truth;
Let them guide me and lead me to Your holy altar.
Then will I know Your Heart of my heart, my exceeding joy;
And I will praise you with song, o my Beloved, my Awakener.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
And why do you sigh within me?
Hope in God! Then I will again give God thanks,
For we are all one in love, now and forevermore.
—Psalm 43
Sung in German
Grant us peace, Lord God, in our times.
For there is no other who can defend us
Except you alone, our God.
—Martin Luther
Sung in English
All life, all breath, all that has life and breath sing to the Lord.
Praise the Lord with lute and harp, in joyful song extolling. And let
all flesh magnify God’s bountiful glory. All that has life and breath,
sing to the Lord.
Solo and Treble Chorus
Praise thou the Lord, O my spirit, and my inmost soul praise such
great loving kindness. Praise thou the Lord, O my spirit, and forget
thou not all God’s mercies to us.
Recitative and Aria
Sing ye praise, all ye redeemed of the Lord, redeemed from the
hand of the foe, from your distresses, from deep affliction, who
sat in the shadow of death and darkness. All ye that cry in trouble
unto the Lord: sing ye praise, give ye thanks, proclaim aloud God’s
God counteth all your sorrows in the time of need. God comforts
the bereaved with kind regard. Sing ye praise. Give ye thanks!
Proclaim aloud God’s goodness.
All ye that cried unto the Lord in distress and deep affliction, God
counteth all your sorrows in the time of need.
Duet and Chorus
I waited for the Lord, who inclined unto me and heard my complaint.
O blessed are they that hope and trust in the Lord.
Sorrows of death had closed all around me and hell’s dark terror
had got hold upon me with trouble and deep heaviness. But, said
the Lord: Come, arise from the dead – I bring thee salvation.
We called through the darkness: Guardian, will the night soon
pass? The guardian only said: Though the morning will come, the
night will come also. Return again, ask ye, inquire ye: Guardian,
will the night soon pass?
The night is departing!
The night is departing, the day is approaching. Therefore, let us
cast off the works of darkness, let us gird on the armor of light.
Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in whom God’s world rejoices.
Who, from our parents’ arms has blessed us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
All praise and thanks to God Creator now be given,
The Son, and Holy Ghost who reign in highest heaven.
The one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore,
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
My song shall be always thy mercy, singing Thy praise, thou only
God. My tongue ever speaks the goodness Thou hast done unto me.
I wander in night and foulest darkness and mine enemies stand
threatening around me, yet called I upon the name of the Lord, and
God redeemed me with watchful goodness.
Ye nations, offer to the Lord glory and might. Ye monarchs, offer
to the Lord glory and might. O heaven, offer to the Lord glory and
might. All nature, offer to the Lord glory and might.
O give thanks to the Lord, praise God all ye people and ever bless
that holy name. Sing to the Lord and ever bless that holy name. All
that has life and breath sing to the Lord, Hallelujah. Sing to the Lord.


Nicholas Chalmers, Photo Credit: Unknown
Nicholas Chalmers, Photo Credit: Unknown


Nicholas Chalmers, tenor, has sung with The Bach Society of Minnesota, The Rose Ensemble, the Minnesota Bach Ensemble, Glorious Revolution Baroque, and Transept. Recent solo engagements include the Oratorio Society, the Bach Roots Festival, the Schubert Club, the St. Mark’s Cathedral Concert Series, Minnesota Center Chorale, Border CrosSing, and Lyra Baroque. Nicholas received a B.M. in music from St. Olaf College, as well as an M.M. in Choral Conducting at the University of Minnesota. Nicholas is the Director of Choirs at Chesterton Academy in Hopkins and is Director of Music at Annunciation Church in Minneapolis. He is also Artistic Director of the Mirandola Ensemble. Last season Nicholas was a featured soloist in VocalEssence and the Bach Society of Minnesota’s performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.






Maria Jette, Photo Credit: Unknown
Maria Jette, Photo Credit: Unknown


Soprano Maria Jette’s wide-ranging career has encompassed everything from early Baroque opera to world premieres in the United States and abroad. She has performed with VocalEssence on numerous occasions, including the VocalEssence 50th Anniversary Concert, the U.S. premiere of Jonathan Dove’s There Was a Child in 2013, Welcome Christmas in 2012, and The Sound of Eternity in 2011. Her orchestral résumé includes The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and more. This fall Maria and her accompanist, Philip Brunelle, performed two sold-out performances of “An Imaginary House Concert at Downton Abbey” at Crooner’s Supper Club.


Kailey Boettcher
Erin Boorsma
Isabelle Brown
Axel Calderon
Corrin Calderon
Lillian Crissinger
Ava Cunningham
Lia Cunningham
Evie Dawson
Mckenzie Fields
Angel Hernandez
Cody Laskowske
Kylie Lee
Joey Maiden
Avery Mauer
Bella Navarrete
Kyle Steffl
Jaya Stout
Logan Strom
Jal Thoat
Luke Wangsness
Lara Westrum
Jameson Wildman
Hannah Willner
Carter Anderson
Christopher Callen
Carter Ferris
Trynica Haines
Isabel Homme
Daniel Jacobson
Calvin Krych
Moira Laughlin
Brennen Lishman
Kate Miklethun
Madeline Orstad
Silas Pilon
Sarah Shaffer
Amy Shiff
Jailinh Tang
Alenna White
Libby Wilsman
Sol Beaudry
Maggie Berendez
Jaxon Cagle
Abby Carroll
Holly Christman
Jane Dombeck
Evan Dombeck
Dominic Geryol
Aliya Hjelle
Kailee Hustoft
Jocelyn Jaroscak
Taylor Jeffery
Carter Kephart
Leo Krueger
Gus Krueger
Tilly Kue
Roman Lindenfelser
Robbie Madore
Caleb Matheson
Emily Mueller
Chelsea Neba
Peyton Peyerl
Delia Walz
Ava Young


Leslie Shank
Alastair Brown
Susan Crawford
Kseniya Khvashchynskaya
Claire Loudon
Ian Snyder
Renata Steve
Stephanie Skor
Mickey Johnson
Chuck Krenner
Matthew Mindeman
Sean Dostal
Darin Anderson
Diane Tremaine
Melissa Steinberg
Charles Block
Irving Steinberg
Hannah Peterson
Ming-hui Lin
Sarah Carmack
Lindsey Thompson
Paul Shultz
Paul Schimming
Matt Bertrand
Emma Plehal
Patrick Pridemore
Neal Bolter
Gina Goettl
Rebecca Jyrkas
Martin Hodel
Jonathan Brandt
Carson King- Fournier
Rick Gaynor
Scott Moore
Will Kemperman

About VocalEssence

For more than five decades, VocalEssence has provided opportunities for singers from the Twin Cities area to create incredible music together and build connections as part of the vibrant arts community in Minnesota.
VocalEssence is known for introducing audiences to music and artists who are not yet known, often welcoming guest artists, composers, and conductors who are emerging, have unknown works, or represent a variety of cultures. Welcoming all members of the greater community, VocalEssence embodies the motto: Together We Sing.
Artistic Director and Founder
Philip Brunelle, artistic director and founder of VocalEssence 54 years ago, is an internationally-renowned conductor, choral scholar, and visionary. Philip has conducted symphonies, choral festivals, and operas on six continents. He holds five honorary degrees, served 9 years as Vice President of IFCM (International Federation for Choral Music), and has been recognized for his commitment to choral music by the governments of Norway, Hungary, Sweden, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. In 2019, he was awarded the American Prize in Choral Conducting and, in 2020, was given the Honorary Member Award by the Society for American Music. This fall Philip was appointed a National Arts Associate of the Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity. Philip is also Organist-Choirmaster at Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis. During the pandemic Philip recorded almost 300 “Musical Moments” which can be accessed HERE and his thoughts on music are at RenaissanceManpodcast.com.
Associate Artistic Director
G. Phillip Shoultz, III, associate artistic director, uses the power of the spoken word and song to foster community and inspire action among people of all ages and abilities. Phillip conducts festival choirs and leads workshops across the United States and beyond. He serves on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas and guides the ministries of worship, music, and the arts at Westwood Lutheran Church. The Minnesota Orchestra regularly engages Phillip to host their Young People’s Concerts and his online presence continues to grow as his pandemic livestream, Take 5 with GPS, rapidly approaches the 450 episode milestone. The winner of numerous honors, including the ACDA Graduate Conducting Competition and multiple Teacher of the Year awards, Phillip founded “Table for More” in the summer of 2020 to help organizations address issues related to innovation, equity, and belonging in the arts. Phillip lives in St. Louis Park with his wife, Michelle, and their two children (Malachi and Lydia Grace).


Mary Jo Gothmann joined VocalEssence as staff accompanist in 2015. She enjoys a varied career as a chamber musician, soloist, opera coach, and organist. Mary Jo performs frequently with the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and is a graduate of Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program, University of Minnesota, New England Conservatory, and St. Olaf College. Mary Jo is the founder and Artistic Director of the Joya Chamber Music Series at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka.


VocalEssence Chorus 2022-23, photo credit-Bruce Silcox

The VocalEssence Chorus is a group of talented and enthusiastic singers from many different walks of life, united by their love of singing and community. Performing a wide variety of musical styles, premiering new works, and sharing the stage with a diverse array of guest artists, the Chorus is a welcome home for singers who wish to continue making music throughout their adult lives.
AnnaLisa Anderson
Madison Asher
Jessica Belt
Corey Cellurale
Lorinda Chagnon
Amanda Connolly
McKenna Cromwell
Kristina M. Guiffre
Rebecca Hovsepian
Claire Huber
Sally Jaffray
Clara Lind
Emma Marsh
Lisa Misch
Lisa D. Moncur
Mary Nyhus
Christina Pederson
Emma Schlabach
Ashley Slattery
Leah Sovick
Abbie Sulik
Dana Terres
Amanda Troolin
Jennifer Vickerman
Laura Walklet Jacobsen
Carole Whitney
Dannika Wright
Akosua Obuo Addo
Nancy Jo Aldrich
Azure Anderson
Johanna Beaupre
Jo Beld
Katelyn Belden
Grace Dokken-Smith
Autumn Gurgel
Marjorie Hakala
Meg Hanna
Dee Hein
Grace Alice Herbertz
Katie Kovacovich
Wenie Lado
Jessica Laven Johnson
Jeenee Lee
Rebecca Modert
Kristi Mueller
Elizabeth Neuenfeldt
Liz Raimann
Marty Raymond
Miriam Sahouani
Erin Sandsmark
Katie Sandsmark
Lisa K. Schalla
Sydney Schoeberle
Forrest Schrader
Laura Tanner
Catherine Terres
Allie Wigley
Steve Aggergaard
David Ampaabeng
Jason Bendezu
Larry J. Brandts
Justin Clark
Ryan Coopergard
Ben Demaree
Martin Kulstad
Owen Metzger
Kurtis Parlin
Thomas Sasdi
Rabindra Tambyraja
Barry Tikalsky
Justin Vanni
Robert Atendido
Evan Clay Kelly
Jordan Kiffmeyer
Jacob T Koshiol
Ben Kucera
Mike LaFleur
Philip Lowry
Noah Lucas
Ken Michael McGurran
Nicholas Mroczek
Declan O’Higgins
Milo Oien-Rochat
David Olson
Ron Pearson
Brian D. Ruhl
Anthony LeVell Sims
Trent Stenoien
Matthew Terhaar
David Toht

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers 2022-23, photo credit-Bruce Silcox

The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers have established an international reputation because of their extensive catalog of recordings and broad range of unique repertoire. This chamber choir, whose members hail from a wide variety of professions, is bound together by their skilled artistry to create what The Times of London has described as a “flawless” sound.
Jennifer Bevington
Elsa Buck
Chloe Johnson
JoAnna E. Johnson
Natalia Romero Arbeláez
Margaret Sabin
Mari Scott
Carey Shunskis
Robin Joy Helgen
Patty Kramer
Marita Link
Anna George Meek
Judith McClain Melander
Sadie Nelson
Erin Smith Peters
Kristina Rodel Sorum
Peter Aldrich
Elijah Baumgartner
Will Berendsen
Ben Brunnette
Anders Eckman
Robert J. Graham
Nicholas Mattsson
Bill Pederson
Jimmy Deignan
Joseph Ellickson
David Gindra
Joe Kastner
Erik Krohg
Nathan Petersen-Kindem
Dr. Michael P. Schmidt
Timothy C. Takach

VocalEssence Singers Of This Age, photo credit: Kyndell Harkness

The VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (VESOTA) is a community of Twin Cities teenagers engaged in expanding what it means to be a choir and, encouraging a wider circle of participation in the artform. Presenting music ranging from classical to hip-hop, they use creativity and collaboration to build an accepting community, equipped with the skills to lead social change in our society.
Alice Weiland
Anastasia Pihvagah
Anna Delaney
Alyssa Witty
Ash Kansara
Audrey Saul
Avery Somdahl
Curtis Ying
Dede Jones
DJ Saul
Ella Wright
Elizabeth (Moxie) Tucker
Emi Sisson
Ethan Cheng
Ian Ronning
Isa Benegas
Jadesola (Ghost)
Jerilyn Moya-Hypolite
Jerusha (Ru) Burdette
Kadin Bartlett
Kaija Halvorson
Kayla Gibson
Krista Hines
Lela Sabin
Lily Hiebert
Lotus Deuel
Ma’Kiala Moore
Mahagony Robinson
Molly Sabin
Natalie Goodman
Nick Green
Raegan Brogden
Ricquelle Miles
Ruby Atkins
Skylar Bandelin
Sylvia Morris
Txengkong (TK) Vang
Ursula Beitz

VocalEssence Vintage Voices 2, photo credit Kyndell Harkness
VocalEssence Vintage Voices, Photo Credit: Kyndell Harkness

VocalEssence Vintage Voices is an exciting choral program that integrates the arts into the everyday lives of older adults. Guided by a desire to create a welcoming atmosphere and remove barriers for participation, these choirs sing to build community, combat loneliness and isolation, and improve physical and emotional wellbeing.

VocalEssence Board of Directors and Staff

Carolina Gustafson
David Myers
Torrie Allen
Vice President
Daniel Fernelius
Kristen Hoeschler O’Brien
Mary Ann Aufderheide
Tanya M. Bransford
Philip Brunelle
Cassidy McCrea Burns
Barbara Burwell
Mirella Ceja-Orozco
Margaret Chutich
Dan Dressen
Martha Driessen
Anna K. B. Finstrom
Cassandra Garnett
RJ Heckman
Valton Henderson
Daniel Kantor
Lisa Merklin Lewis
Paul H. McDonough
Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed
Fred Moore
Richard Neuner
Jim Odland
Joanne Reeck
Don Shelby
Amanda Storm Schuster
Elizabeth Truesdell Smith
Jeff Smith
Kristina Rodel Sorum
Timothy C. Takach
Rabindra Tambyraja
Ann Barkelew
Ann Buran
Art Kaemmer
Nikki Lewis
Mike McCarthy*
Dave Mona
Dorene Wernke
Dominick Argento*
William Bolcom
Dave Brubeck*
Stewart Copeland
Aaron Copland*
Håkan Hagegård
Louise Heffelfinger*
Eskil Hemberg*
Betty Hulings*
Sigrid Johnson*
James Earl Jones
Garrison Keillor
Donald Mitchell*
Helmuth Rilling
John Rutter
Peter Schickele
Dr. André J. Thomas
Eric Whitacre
*In remembrance
Philip Brunelle
Artistic Director and Founder
G. Phillip Shoultz, III
Associate Artistic Director
Robert Graham
Learning and Engagement Manager | Conductor, Vintage Voices
Mary Jo Gothmann
John Jensen
Accompanist, Vintage Voices
Azure Anderson
Executive Assistant
Mary Ann Aufderheide
Executive Director
Jeff Bina
Director of Finance and Operations
Rhiannon Fiskradatz
Learning and Engagement Manager
Laura Holst
Development and Marketing Associate
Ethan Johnson
Director of Artistic Operations
Amanda Timmer
Director of Marketing and Communications
Elissa Weller
Director of Development

Share your voice!

Would you take 5-7 minutes to give us some feedback?

To take our survey, click the button below.

Take Survey

Thank you, VocalEssence Supporters

VocalEssence has a large group of committed supporters and is honored by the many gifts received in memory, appreciation, and celebration of friends and family that are too many to list in this concert program. Please click the button below to see a full list of supporters and special tributes.