VocalEssence's 2016-17 season will include programs that feature Guthrie artistic director Joe Haj and pianist/composer Stephen Hough.

The vocal group, under Philip Brunelle's direction, opens the season Oct. 15 with a community sing led by choral legends Alice Parker and Ysaye Barnwell. That will be followed the next day with two premieres: "The Voyage," by composer Bob Chilcott, and "Quilt Songs," which features the work of five female composers. Haj will appear on the program, reading selections from Shakespeare in between the music.

"Welcome Christmas" features Conrad Susa's "Carols & Lullabies." The program will be presented Dec. 3 and 9-11. On Dec. 10, VocalEssence will do two 45-minute morning concerts.

Melanie DeMore leads a community sing on Jan. 13, 2017, and then returns Feb. 19 for VocalEssence's annual "Witness" program. DeMore's 2014 concert here was sold out.

Hough, the world-renowned pianist, composed two masses for voice and organ that will be performed April 22, 2017. Hough will also appear with piano selections between the two major works.

More than 500 students will join VocalEssence for the annual Cantare! Community Concerts on May 2, 2017.

Information is at vocal essence.org or 612-371-5642.