26 episodes

This podcast is an ongoing interview series with noted conductor, organist, musical leader, educator and entrepreneur Philip Brunelle.

Renaissance Man - Philip Brunelle and Music Tim Brunelle

    • Arts

This podcast is an ongoing interview series with noted conductor, organist, musical leader, educator and entrepreneur Philip Brunelle.

    26 - Thank You, Mary Ann

    26 - Thank You, Mary Ann

    Here's an episode for anyone curious about how a 55+ year old choral arts organization continues to thrive through its operational leadership. This Thanksgiving weekend we're turning our gratitude to VocalEssence Executive Director Mary Ann Aufderheide to celebrate her 20+ years helping lead the organization. So much to uncover in this episode, including her journey to VE, decades of lessons learned, insights around arts leadership, the evolution of arts management, and the challenges and joys of evolving a leadership role alongside an organization co-founder. Philip, Tim and Mary Ann discuss the balance of executive versus artistic leadership, the evolving role of an arts org board, and Mary Ann's highlights over the past 20 years. Thanks for your remarkable era of leadership, Mary Ann!

    • 48 min
    25 - VocalEssence '23-'24 Season & 55 Years at Plymouth Church

    25 - VocalEssence '23-'24 Season & 55 Years at Plymouth Church

    Philip loves jokes and puns. So let's start there as a prelude to describing the 55th seasons at both VocalEssence and Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. Turns out various choir members have given Philip books of jokes and riddles, along with many other trinkets over the decades so we discussed that tradition. Then we worked through the many highlights of VocalEssence's 55th season, noting numerous new choral commissions, various collaborations, the challenge of selecting just 90 minutes of "favorites" from 55 years of curating and commissioning, and the return (in March) of Melanie DeMore—listen to Philip's interview with Melanie from episode 09 (link below). The second half of this episode focuses on the diverse repertoire selected for Plymouth from September to June, again highlighting lots of new commissions. The episode ends with a 2010 VocalEssence recording of the American folks song "Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be" arranged by Norman Luboff.

    NOTES

    VocalEssence's 55th Season
    https://www.vocalessence.org/event/subscribe-vocalessence-2023-2024-season/

    Melanie DeMore Interview (episode 9)
    https://soundcloud.com/renaissanceman-352514445/09-protest-music-with-melanie-demore

    • 35 min
    24 - Philip's 80th Birthday Spectacular

    24 - Philip's 80th Birthday Spectacular

    We're each a product of our times and experiences. In this episode Philip retraces some historic moments to uncover insights across 80 years of choral direction, church music and artistic leadership. We discuss his favorite church organs around the world. That moment at the New York Philharmonic in June 1968 holding the score to Gunther Schuller's Concerto for Doublebass and Chamber Orchestra, while sitting between Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. And the opportunities and challenges when shifting from performer to leader. We get Philip's perspective on the word "retirement," to wit, "I'm not going to." And his advice to signers, conductors, organizational leaders and audiences.

    • 52 min
    23 - St Olaf ACDA Interview

    23 - St Olaf ACDA Interview

    23 - St Olaf ACDA Interview by Tim Brunelle

    • 52 min
    22 - 2023 World Choral Symposium Recap

    22 - 2023 World Choral Symposium Recap

    This episode is a quick recap of Philip's journey to Istanbul for the 2023 World Choral Symposium. We talk about his previous trip to Istanbul 60 years prior, and the range of insights uncovered during this year's event, and his visit to the historic Blue Mosque. We also preview the final concert of VocalEssence's 54th season featuring Moira Smiley, the American Choral Director's Association annual meeting at the end of this month, and Philip's plans for the summer.

    VocalEssence Concert
    https://www.vocalessence.org/event/singing-the-world-awake2/

    World Choral Symposium
    https://wscmistanbul2023.com

    • 23 min
    21 - Pragmatic Choral Direction

    21 - Pragmatic Choral Direction

    "Singing is a tricky business!" notes Philip, before he flies East to attend the 2023 World Choral Symposium in Istanbul. "It's the only musical experience where you can't see your instrument." In episode 21 we sat down to talk about the business of being a choir director. "It begins with observing the product, the choir in action," says Philip. He learned by being a choir member first, then watching how others, including Robert Shaw and Charles Munsch, directed. Philip's first full-time choir director position came with also being the organist at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Minneapolis at age 20. (He had joined the Minnesota Orchestra the year prior.) Philip moved to become Organist and Choir Director at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis at age 25, where he has remained since.

    "Choirs need three things," says Philip. "The first is rhythm. That's the most important skill. Then you learn notes. And then words. That's it!" Philip also talks about the business of "singing as one," which is not about blend—rather, about achieving a unified sound. He also reveals various habits, process and techniques for helping balance choirs, build confidence among singers, and increase their flexibility. "50% of what a choir does is vocal. 50% is listening," says Philip. As a director, you are always coaching ways to actively listen, so a choir hears where and how each part fits in the picture.

    This episode features excerpts from two VocalEssence recordings. The first is from Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise)by Felix Mendelssohn (1840). The second is "A Ukrainian Prayer" by John Rutter. Both can be found at VE's YouTube page.

    • 58 min

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