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Founded in 1969, VocalEssence is recognized internationally for innovative exploration of music for voices and instruments. Each year the organization presents an engaging collection of concerts featuring the 125-voice VocalEssence Chorus, the 32-voice Ensemble Singers, famous guest artists and instrumentalists. In addition to championing lesser-known works of the past, VocalEssence has an unwavering commitment to today’s composers, and has commissioned well over 120 new works and given more than 130 world premieres. VocalEssence has received the ASCAP Award for adventurous programming of contemporary music an unprecedented five times, and has been awarded the once-in-an-organizational-lifetime Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence.

Philip Brunelle, artistic director and founder of VocalEssence, is an internationally renowned conductor, choral scholar and performer. Philip has conducted symphonies (New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, and Minnesota Orchestra among others) as well as choral festivals and operas on six continents. Philip holds five honorary doctorates, was invested as an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2005 for his services to music, and named a Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit in 2007. He has also been honored by the governments of Mexico, Sweden and Hungary.

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Welcome Christmas - Carols & Lullabies from Around the World VocalEssence What A Mighty God - Spirituals and Gospels for Chorus - VocalEssence William Grant Still: Skyward My People Rose - VocalEssence - Philip Brunelle
What A Mighty God/VocalEssence
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William Grant Still: Skyward My People Rose/VocalEssence
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From Virgil Thomson's camp meeting setting of "The Holly and the Ivy" and Steve Barnett's swing verson of "Go Tell It on the Mountain" to Randall Davidson's homespun "Christ Was Born on Christmas Day" and Conrad Susa's magnificent Carols & Lullabies, commissioned from Susa specifically for VocalEssence, Maestro Brunelle has chosen carols-both familiar and unfamiliar---tied to one another by their inventiveness, charm and beauty in one of the year's most exciting new holiday discs. VocalEssence is joined with an orchestra and jazz band for this program of stirring spirituals and rousing gospel melodies.  "Flawless choral singing, presented with a genuine felling of compassion and warmth." - BBC Music Magazine

Part of The Witness Series of African-American music, sung by VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, directed by Philip Brunelle.
William Grant Still's music for chorus, orchestra and organ brings the blues into the concert hall, ragtime to the ballet stage and the Old World into a new era.
Dance Like The Wind: Music of Today's Black Composers/VocalEssence Got the Saint Louis Blues - Classical Music in the Jazz Age/VocalEssence The World Beloved - A Bluebrass Mass by Carol Barnett  - VocalEssence - Philip Brunelle - Monroe Crossing
The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass/VocalEssence
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Thought-provoking and moving music by eight modern composers spans the range of expression from solo cello to chorus, from jazz ensemble to woodwind quintet. Vibrant music from the crossroads — South and North, African and American, church and street — characterizes the era between 1914 and 1930. Each of the composers here was a significant contributor to the Harlem Renaissance and by tune or text, these works document the coming jazz explosion. Many have never before been recorded. Minnesota composer Carol Barnett offers this unusual Mass setting in more-or-less classical style, orchestrated with Bluegrass instruments. The result is tailor-fit for VocalEssence a vocal ensemble which hasmade a reputation for first-rate performances of this type of crossover music. This CD also includes ten American choral masterpieces spanning the centuries, including Randall Thompson, William Billings, Libby Larsen, Stephen Paulus, Ned Rorem, Eric Whitacre and others
The Songs We Sang: Favorite American Folksongs - VocalEssence Behold this Heavenly Night/VocalEssence Gratitude, Gravy & Garrison/VocalEssence/Keillor
The Songs We Sang: Favorite American Folksongs/VocalEssence
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Behold this Heavenly Night/VocalEssence, Brunelle
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Gratitude, Gravy and Garrison/Keillor, VocalEssence, Brunelle
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As comforting as an old patchwork quilt, these beloved folksongs are presented in charming choral arrangements with guitar, harmonica, accordion, bass and piano by Philip Brunelle and the 32-voice VocalEssence Ensemble Singers. In 1998, VocalEssence and the American Composers Forum joined forces to offer an annual contest encouraging the composition of new carols. Over the years hundreds of worthy carols have been submitted. “Behold This Heavenly Night” presents the world premiere of some of these contest-winning carols alongside outstanding arrangements of more familiar melodies. Also included is the U.S. premiere of John Rutter’s new “Carol of the Magi” and a unique arrangement of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” translated into Latin by Philip Brunelle and his son Christopher. Storyteller Garrison Keillor and conductor Philip Brunelle lead a harmonious celebration of all things Thanksgiving with the melodious voices of the VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers and their special guests, singer Jearlyn Steele and pianist Richard Dworsky. Along the way we learn that Thanksgiving really isn’t all about the turkey — it’s actually all about the pie...
From the Land of Sky Blue Waters/VocalEssence Over the River/Garrison Keillor & VocalEssence Hymn to Potatoes/Garrison Keillor with VocalEssence
From the Land of Sky Blue Waters/VocalEssence
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Hymn to Potatoes/Garrison Keillor with VocalEssence (2 CDs!)
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In 2011, the VocaEssence Ensemble Singer criss-crossed Minnesota via historic Highway 23 to share with the state's citizens the music of its choral composers, its singer-songwriters and the songs being sung by the people who have made Minnesota their home over the past 150 years. Enjoy the voices of VocalEssence as the explore the state's unique legacy of traditional, choral and popular song. On a chilly November evening, the Hopeful Gospel Quartet — Garrison Keillor, Mollie O’Brien and Robin & Linda Williams — traded musical moments with the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers in a concert at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis. The evening seamlessly blended American folk traditions with choral masterpieces old and new, from “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” to “Now Thank We All Our God.” Garrison Keillor shared his Thanksgiving memories in a hilarious yet poignant monologue. Now available nationally for the first time—from The Gothic Catalog! Who knew a choir could be this funny? Garrison Keillor, Philip Brunelle and the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers dish up a generous helping of "Potatoes a la Schubert", run away to Europe to indulge their “Shenandoah” habit, and enlighten us on the T.U.L.I.P. doctrine. This two-CD set of the best choral skits and bits from 10 years on  "A Prairie Home Companion" includes the often-requested “Julia” (John Lennon) and a rare choral interpretation of “Karma Chamelon” (Boy George). With Charles Kemper and Richard Dworsky at the piano, The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and guest appearances by Tom Keith and Tim Russell. Now available nationally for the first time—on Clarion Records from The Gothic