More than two centuries after the American Revolution, the British returned to the United States for the biennial VocalEssence Gala.

The Brit Bash theme wasn't a coincidence for the nonprofit group, which stages concerts featuring its 32 ensemble singers and 130 chorus members. Founder and artistic director Philip Brunelle is a knighted member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). He adores all things British.

"We've done so much English music and we toured England," said Brunelle, adding there's a reason he and audiences adore the music. "It's in English! There are a lot of composers that people know because it has been a tradition for 4,500 years."

The 43-year-old VocalEssence runs an active educational program and will host the Chorus America National Conference in June.

Sipping Pimm's Cups and surrounded by Union Jacks, Minnesotans found it easy to catch a bit of Anglomania. Rose McGee loves tea. "I do tea parties with cucumber sandwiches," she said.

Wearing an outfit with British flags, soprano Maria Jette declared her love of "tea with milk, Welsh corgis -- I have two -- British music and the works of P.G. Wodehouse."

The queen undoubtedly would approve.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177