For 31 years, VocalEssence has celebrated the contributions of African Americans to our shared American heritage through its annual VocalEssence WITNESS Concert. This year’s concert features music from movements of social change, including the Voting Rights Act, sit-ins, police shootings, civil rights, abolition, and Black Lives Matter.
This year, the concert will be televised across Minnesota on Twin Cities PBS at the end of May as a part of their programming in tribute to the memory of George Floyd. Here are the air dates and times on stations TPT 2 and TPT Life:
- TPT 2: Sunday, May 30 at 2 p.m.
- TPT 2: Sunday, May 30 at 6 p.m.
- TPT LIFE: Saturday, May 29 at 7 p.m.
- TPT LIFE: Sunday, May 30 at 12 p.m.
- TPT LIFE: Sunday, May 30 at 1 a.m.
“We are returning to audience favorites—like Melanie DeMore, Rosephanye Powell, Alysia Lee, and Ysaye Barnwell—Black, women, and ally composers who have been part of VocalEssence WITNESS programs over the years. Their voices and stories will help us speak our truth and stand for justice, to inspire us all to take steps toward making the change we want to see in the world,” says G. Phillip Shoultz, III, VocalEssence associate conductor and director of learning and engagement programs. “Pieces like Laura Caviani’s ‘Rise Up and Lay Down Your Arms,’ written in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and arranged for our choir, or B.E. Boykin’s setting of John 3:16 will connect music to the inflection points in history when people came together to effect social change.”
This performance connects with the VocalEssence WITNESS program, one of the nation’s best-known initiatives celebrating the contributions of African Americans to our shared American heritage through concerts, recordings, and comprehensive educational programs. It will be available on VocalEssence On Demand as part of the digital 2020-21 concert season, beginning Sunday, May 16 at 4 p.m., and will feature the VocalEssence Chorus, Ensemble Singers, and Singers Of This Age as they travel through time to explore music birthed from activism and fueled by the unwavering commitment to equal rights and equitable treatment for all marginalized communities in the United States.
“Music and art are woven into the social movements in our country’s history, and for decades, WITNESS has helped us share the stories of African American trailblazers,” says Philip Brunelle, VocalEssence artistic director and founder. “VocalEssence is honoring those voices, from the abolitionists to Black Lives Matter. It’s another way we are upholding our motto—together we sing—and demonstrating the power of art to change the world.”
Tickets are currently available as a digital stream for $15, or as part of a VocalEssence On Demand 2020-21 digital season subscription. The On Demand season is available in high definition anytime, anywhere, for $49. Featuring stunningly clear audio and crisp, high-quality video, these performances will provide intimate and engaging experiences that are the next best thing to attending events in person. VocalEssence is also offering essential workers, unemployed people, those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and their caregivers a free VocalEssence On Demand subscription for the 2020-21 Season. Click here to subscribe or call 612-371-5642.
VocalEssence, called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts—and the choral ensemble that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says “sings magnificently”—impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its initiative programs, contests, and support for innovative art. VocalEssence was founded in 1969 and has debuted more than 300 commissions and world premieres.