In his “wonderful and busy” June and July, Artistic Director Philip Brunelle has been making music with old friends and new. He returned to the podium to conduct the Lake Harriet Pops Orchestra, a post he held for 10 seasons, and filled the air outside the Lake Harriet Bandshell with the music of Bernstein and Liszt. He presented a memorial concert to Dominick Argento, “the great American composer and a dear friend,” at the Ted Mann Hall at the University of Minnesota. “We brought together long-time friends and performers of his music in a lovefest for Dominick,” Philip says.
He was also at the annual Chorus America conference in Philadelphia to watch Phillip Shoultz accept the 2019 Education and Community Engagement Award, given to VocalEssence for its VESOTA youth choir. “It was a great honor… Phillip spoke eloquently about the work that VESOTA has done in our community.”
As July ends, Philip will be off to Hong Kong, joining the Hong Kong Children’s Choir as it celebrates its 50th anniversary, too!
From there, Philip heads to London and Gloucester for the Three Choirs Festival, where he’s looking forward to a Bob Chilcott premiere that may be part of a future VocalEssence season.
He’ll be back to see award-winning Venezuelan conductor María Guinand lead the Minnesota Orchestra’s performances of Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasión según San Marcos on August 3. And in mid-August, he’ll accompany Dan Dressen as part of the Alexandria Music Festival.
Then it’s off to Mexico City, where the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers will again join the legendary Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería (OSM) from August 25 through September 2 for a cross-cultural celebration as an encore of last year’s stellar debut.
Associate Conductor G. Phillip Shoultz, III accepted the 2019 Education and Community Engagement Award from Chorus America at their annual conference in Philadelphia. VocalEssence won the award for best emerging program for its groundbreaking high school choir, VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (VESOTA). Check out the video highlighting the chorus from Chorus America!
VESOTA has kept Phillip plenty busy this summer. In June the choir held its inaugural VESOTA voice camp, where 22 VESOTA members studied Italian art songs, South African freedom songs, musicianship, and had daily private lessons with teaching artists from the Twin Cities area. At the end of August, they will hold another week of camp, with the focus being on ensemble singing.
The group performed as part of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Saturday, July 13, 2019 International Day of Music celebration. They sang highlights from their Identity concert performance and their VocalEssence ¡Cantaré! program in Orchestra Hall’s Target Atrium.
Attendees of the Global Minnesota Gala were also entertained by VESOTA members. Global Minnesota’s Kristi Pogatchnik told Phillip, “I think our donors were blown away. The energy you and the kids brought to that stage was amazing.”
VESOTA also had its first studio recording session at MPR. Stay tuned for the release of several videos later this summer!
Somehow, Phillip also found time in mid-July to head to Topeka, Kansas as one of the headliners for the Summer Convention of the Kansas Choral Directors Association. His sessions With Liberty, Justice, and CHOIR for all! explored how choral directors can create an environment for all to be included and successful in choir. He also led reading sessions and spent time in dialogue with many of the over 150 music educators that were in attendance.
Phillip just completed two weeks as a faculty member at the University of St Thomas, where he taught three different levels of Choral Conducting to twenty-three educators who serve schools in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, Washington, Iowa, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
In August, Phillip will be rehearsing with VESOTA as they prepare for their Labor Day weekend performances at the State Fair. They’ll be singing at the International Bazaar Stage at 10:45 am, 12:00 pm, and 1:15 pm on both Sunday, September 1 and Monday, September 2.