Thursday, August 11, 2011

'Highway 23 Revisited: VocalEssence Hits the Road for a Minnesota Tour'

Malia Cole sends this release from

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (July 22, 2011) — Twin Cities based VocalEssence is hitting scenic Minnesota Highway 23 for the North Star Tour, performing in 5 cities before returning to Saint Paul for a homecoming performance at The Fitzgerald Theater. The tour kicks off October 28th in Marshall, continuing through the cities of Luverne, Montevideo, Duluth and Saint Cloud. The 32-voice VocalEssence Ensemble Singer’s concert repertoire will focus on our state’s musical heritage, including local composers, singer-songwriters and folksongs, in addition to a brand new Minnesota medley. For more information about the North Star Tour’s dates, locations and tickets visit

“'We are having lots of fun with this Minnesota repertoire, especially the Medley, which includes not only our folk heritage but also some of our more Prince-ly legacy,' says Artistic Director and Conductor Philip Brunelle, 'I can’t promise purple attire, but it will be a great time.'

"Thanks to a special Clean Water and Land Legacy grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, VocalEssence is able to expand their tour activities beyond the stage, spending time in each city providing master classes with community choirs, students and composers. They will be working with musicians from Marshall High School, Luverne High School, Murray County Central Schools, Southwest Minnesota State University, University of Minnesota - Duluth, and St. Cloud State, in addition to many other choral groups throughout the state.

"The Oxford Times (UK) has declared that the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers “have a blend that could — and should — be the envy of every choir in the business.” Founded in 1991, the Ensemble Singers are acclaimed for their “superbly blended sound” (Birmingham Post, UK) and “exemplary technique” (Minneapolis Star Tribune). Lauded by the Times of London as “polished, bright and brilliantly balanced,” this 32-voice professional chorus is directed by VocalEssence founder Philip Brunelle and associate conductor Sigrid Johnson. Well-known to public radio listeners as the “house choir” on A Prairie Home Companion, the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers are featured on three CDs with Garrison Keillor: Over the River & Through the Woods; Hymn to Potatoes (and other choral masterpieces from A Prairie Home Companion); and their newest concert recording, Gratitude, Gravy & Garrison.

"Called 'one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time' by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, VocalEssence was founded in 1969 by current Artistic Director Philip Brunelle. Recognized internationally for its innovative exploration of music for voices and instruments, the organization presents an engaging collection of concerts featuring the 130-voice VocalEssence Chorus, the professional 32-voice Ensemble Singers (well known for their appearances on the internationally-distributed radio show A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor), guest soloists and instrumentalists. In addition to championing lesser-known works of the past, VocalEssence has an unwavering commitment to today’s composers resulting in more than 130 world premieres. VocalEssence has released thirteen commercial recordings, including four WITNESS CDs of music by African American composers and artists available on the Clarion label.

"For press information and photographs related to the North Star Tour, please contact Tour Communications Manager, Sarah Fossen ( or visit the press section of"

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