Special Guests
Saturday, January 25, 2003

Philip Brunelle

Founder and Artistic Director of the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota since 1969, PHILIP BRUNELLE is an internationally renowned conductor, choral scholar and performer. He was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in 2001 and has won a myriad of awards including the Kodaly Medal from the government of Hungary and the Stig Andersson Award for contributions to Swedish music. In 1993 and 1994, Mr. Brunelle and the Plymouth Music Series received the ASCAP-Chorus America Award for adventuresome programming in contemporary music, in 1996 the organization was awarded the Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence from Choral America, in 1992 they received a Grammy Award nomination for the Virgin Classics recording of Dominick Argentos's Te Deum and in 1988 they won the "Best Opera Recording of the Year" Gramophone award for Britten's Paul Bunyan. Philip Brunelle has worked closely with A Prairie Home Companion since its first show on July 6, 1974 and has collaborated with Garrison Keillor on several CDs including Songs of a Cat, Lake Wobegon Revisited, Young Lutheran's Guide to the Orchestra and Now It Is Christmas Again.


THE VOCALESSENCE ENSEMBLE SINGERS, formerly known as the Ensemble Singers of the Plymouth Music Series, first sang together in 1991. The 26-voice Ensemble Singers are chosen for their musicianship, vocal qualities and flexibility in singing many styles of music. Innovative explorers, the Ensemble Singers embody the adventure and enthusiasm of VocalEssence. They are the professional core of the larger VocalEssence Chorus, which, for 31 years under the direction of founder and artistic director Philip Brunelle, has grown to become one of the premier music organizations in Minnesota. Performing with the Ensemble Singers tonight: soprano: Kathleen Hanson, Lori Lewis, Margaret Lanning Sabin, Dara Kirchofner Scholz, Andrea Schussler, Ruth Spiegel, Linda Zelig; alto: Katie Crawford, Nina M. Heebink, Barbara Kastens, Karen Lovgren Kennedy, Marita J. Link, Jaime Nelson; tenor: Kevin L. Bailey, Robert Griffin, Curt Hopmann, Mark Larsen, Thomas Larson, Kurtis Parlin; bass: Christopher Brunelle, Steve Burger, Ryan French, Jerry Johnson, Michael Jorgensen, James Ramlet, Robert C. Smith.

JEARLYN STEELE started singing with her siblings in the aptly named group The Steele Children. The children sang in church and when Jearlyn was only four, she and three siblings opened for gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. They sang in churches, concert halls, and on radio and television across the state of Indiana. Jearlyn left the Hoosier state to attend the University of Minnesota and, one by one, the rest of her brothers and sisters followed. For fun, they started singing together again as The Steele Family. The public wanted more, and so the family turned to singing full-time, which they've been doing for more than a decade. In 1983, the Steeles sang in Gospel at Colonus at the Guthrie Theater. The show toured and ended up on Broadway in 1988. Jearlyn has recorded many local and national commercials, and has been heard on various albums with top acts like George Clinton and Prince. In addition to her music career, in1998, Jearlyn became the first African American woman to host her own radio show at The Good Neighbor, WCCO (830 AM), one of the country's largest commercial stations. Her show, "Steele Talkin'," airs Sundays 8 to 10 p.m. About her career in radio, she says that the best part is getting to talk to people about their lives. "Everyone has a story, and we're all entangled. Our country's melting pot makes an incredible soup. It's up to all of us to decide how that soup's going to taste."

DAN NEWTON, a.k.a. "Daddy Squeeze," has been a Twin Cities resident since 1987. After studying folklore and music at the University of Nebraska he traveled extensively in the British Isles and across the U.S., learning whatever he could about regional music and food. Dan now resides in St. Paul where he maintains his life-long fascination with all things spicy, pungent food, French Roast coffee, dark beer, Jug-band, Cajun Gypsy, and Cumbia music, and unbelievable stories. He collects hot sauce, enjoys playing baseball, and watching Betty Boop cartoons with his son, Walker. Dan spends most his time playing accordion with his group, the "Café Accordion Orchestra," performing the repertoire of the popular Parisian dance bands of the 1920s and 30s, Musette orchestras. He also performs regularly with country blues singer and guitarist Dr. John Walker as "Daddy Squeeze and the Doctor," and with the bands Jumbo Ya Ya, Guys Can Talk, dotCombo, and Art Carnage. He has appeared on recordings by Prudence Johnson, the Proclaimers, Peter Ostroushko, Son Volt, and Neal & Leandra. Dan released his 7th CD, La Vie Musette, in 2002.

The UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEN'S HOCKEY PEP BAND is a group of about 65 members of the Marching Band who perform at all home men's hockey games.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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