Students from Ramsey International Fine Arts Center in Minneapolis sing music written for them by Mexican composer Lilia Vázquez through the VocalEssence ¡Cantaré! program.
Photo credit: Stephen Maturen
Each year the government of Mexico presents the Ohtli Recognition Award to civilians living outside the country for contributions made to the empowerment of Mexican and Mexican-American communities in the United States. Typically each Mexican embassy can give out one award each year.
This year, the winner of that award in Minnesota is Philip Brunelle, artistic director of Vocalessence.
On Monday, May 16, Ana Luisa Fajer, the Consul of Mexico in St. Paul, presented Brunelle with the award at the quarterly VocalEssence board meeting in downtown Minneapolis.
In presenting the award to Brunelle, Fajer said:
“Mexico has decided on this occasion to give the award to someone who has shown passion, commitment, and involvement with education, with culture and with music and in bringing communities together. The best way to do this is through the ¡Cantaré! program, and so this year the award goes to Philip Brunelle.”
Vocalessence’s ¡Cantaré! community engagement program brings composers from Mexico directly into Minnesota classrooms as artists-in-residence with elementary schools, high schools, colleges and community organizations. The composers work directly with students and the community throughout the year, culminating in a a concert presenting the world premieres of music written especially for each chorus by Mexican composers.
“Ohtli” means “to pave the way” in the Nahuatl language, one of the many indigenous languages of Mexico.
A public presentation of the Ohtli award will be made at the VocalEssence ¡Cantaré! Community Concert at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul on Tuesday, May 24 at 7 pm.