- Founded in 1969, as a music outreach program of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis
- Incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1979
- Annual Budget: $2 million
- Endowment/Artistic Advancement Fund: $6 million (established 1987)
- 10 full-time, 1 part-time, 3 contractors
- Executive Director: Mary Ann Aufderheide
- Artistic Director and Founder: Philip Brunelle
- Associate Artistic Director: G. Phillip Shoultz, III
VocalEssence provides opportunities that draw upon the power of singing together to nurture community, inspire creativity, affirm the value of all persons, and expand the impact of choral music.
VocalEssence seeks to be forward thinking, a singing community where all find belonging to celebrate, discover, and create lasting experiences that transform hearts and minds, creating connections across all dimensions of difference.
Serving as a catalyst for change among singers, audiences, choral organizations and communities, we aspire to inspire.
Curiosity & Discovery
Artistry & Creativity
Innovation & Inspiration
As a professional choral organization, we live our values to
• Bridge cultural difference,
• Remain open to continuous learning,
• Celebrate singing as an essential human expression.
- Concert Series: 4-6 events annually in the Twin Cities area
- Learning & Engagement Programs: annually reach thousands of Minnesotans ages 0 to 100
- Regional and international concert appearances
- Recordings for radio broadcast by Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, and more
- 21 commercial recordings released to date
- 32-voice adult professional VocalEssence Ensemble Singers
- 110-voice adult volunteer VocalEssence Chorus
- 40-voice radically diverse youth choir, VocalEssence Singers Of This Age
- More than 60 voices engaged in singing from several Twin Cities area assisted living communities and senior centers through Vintage Voices
- Professional orchestra drawn from top freelance musicians in the Twin Cities
- National and international guest artists have included Dave Brubeck, Aaron Copland, Dessa, James Earl Jones, The King’s Singers, Sweet Honey In The Rock®, Dr. Billy Taylor, Sounds of Blackness, Eric Whitacre, and William Bolcom.
In more than 50 years, VocalEssence has:
- Shared the love of music with more than half a million people at concerts everywhere from St. Peter, MN to Shanghai, China, sharing the stage with everyone from James Earl Jones to The Rolling Stones;
- Inspired more than 185,000 people ages 0 to 100+ to sing together through our learning and engagement programs;
- Commissioned more than 300 new songs. More than half (55%) of the songs were written by composers of color and indigenous people;
- Balanced its operating budget every year;
- Consistently received funding from the Arts & Culture Legacy Amendment of the Minnesota State Arts Board for new initiatives implemented throughout the state.