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Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

Minneapolis/St. Paul: Classical Music

For anyone seeking high quality classical music experiences, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are sure to satisfy. Driven by long tradition, strong academia, and even state legislation, the people of Minnesota come together to create a cornucopia of classical music. Stemming from the rich musical heritage of the Norwegian Lutheran church choirs and the music of St. Olaf College in southern Minnesota, the Twin Cities have become a sort of choral mecca comprised of devoted church choirs, competitive secondary school choirs, dedicated college ensembles, and numerous uniquely moving community and professional vocal ensembles. Well established music schools and universities such as MacPhail Center for Music and the University of Minnesota cultivate music education and performance experience for this and the next generation. Being a major hub for national and international commerce and travel, the Twin Cities are a natural stage for world-renowned musicians to perform as guests and even put down roots. Either one of the two large cities provides multiple symphony orchestras to seek out, most notably the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra .

Perhaps the rich music scene of the Twin Cities is partly due to the specific geographic location. Beautiful parks, lakes, and woodlands – even within the cities – inspire creativity while the long cold winters require that its inhabitants find ways to warm their bodies and nurture their souls. Let yourself be enveloped by the stimulating strains of classical music in Minneapolis and St. Paul, all year round.(Naomi Bird)

Minneapolis Classical Music: Classical Music Around Minneapolis

Below are our Minneapolis Classical Music recommendations, with information on location, admission, transportation/parking, ensemble/venue history and other points of interest in Minneapolis Art.


While prominent chamber ensembles specializing in instrumental music abound, it’s considerably rare to find a versatile—let alone all-male—vocal chamber ensemble with sterling national credentials. Cantus is a group of professional soloists adept at interpreting meaningful music from all over the spectrum, from “classical” repertoire and contemporary compositions to more populist fare spanning rock, pop, and world music. One would be hard-pressed to find another group that performs works by Josquin …more…

Exultate Chamber Choir & Orchestra

Founded in 1996, Exultate has carved itself a niche as the only professional choir in the Twin Cities with its own orchestra. Performing classical works from the Baroque to the 20th century primarily as a chamber ensemble, the group also performs one large-scale masterwork per year as part of a  “Festival” presentation. A trusted presenter of choral literature classics in Minnesota, Exultate has also released an impressive total of 16 …more…


Not to be confused with Kantorei of Denver, the Twin Cities’ Kantorei Chamber Choir has been led by its founder, Artistic Director Axel Theimer since 1988. The roughly 40-member a cappella group possesses a notably focused repertoire as champions of Austro-German composers such as Mendelssohn, Brahms, Hindemith and Wolf, whose musical legacies have informed much of Minnesota’s cultural and artistic history.

The group’s community outreach is also highly specialized, as evidenced …more…

Magnum Chorum

Magnum Chorum is an a cappella chamber choir of 50 singers following in the highly respectible legacy of the St. Olaf Choir.  With a focus on sacred music, the Choir-in-Residence at Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park performs works by a diverse group of composers that encompasses the canonic and the contemporary, from Palestrina to Bernstein to Nancy Grundahl.  The chorus’s notable collaborators include composer Stephen Paulus and conductors Osmo …more…

Minneapolis Pops Orchestra

Active since 1950, the Minnesota Pops Orchestra satisfies the needs of Twin Cities concertgoers during the classical music “off-season” each summer. The 45-person professional ensemble performs a staggering 15 concerts every July—all of which are free to the public—with offerings including light classical and Broadway fare. The orchestra’s activities include a series of Concerts for Seniors and a mentorship program for area high school musicians. ...more...

Minnesota Chorale

Founded in 1972, the Minnesota Chorale is the primary choral collaborator of the Minnesota Orchestra, and frequently performs with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Unlike comparable vocal ensembles, the chorale’s repertoire often includes concert versions and semi-staged productions of canonical operas like Tosca and The Magic Flute in addition to singing liturgical works and presenting regional premieres of contemporary works by John Adams, Jennifer Higdon, and Charles Wuorinen.

Beyond the traditional performance experience, …more…

Minnesota Orchestra

Founded in 1903, the Minnesota Orchestra has demonstrated leadership in performance, recordings, and programming. An innovative ensemble, the orchestra was among the first to be recorded and heard on the radio. Friday-night performances are still broadcast live by Minnesota Public Radio and many concerts are featured on such programs as “SymphonyCast” and “Performance Today.”

An advocate for new works, the ensemble has premiered and commissioned nearly 200 compositions since its founding. …more…

St. Olaf Choir

This collegiate ensemble of 75 singers, among the elite choirs in the country, began in 1912.  The choir is distinguishable by its clarity of tone and text, and for its warm collective timbre.  it has performed throughout the U.S., has recorded 25 albums and has participated in 13 international tours.

The group’s repertoire is varied—featuring compositions by Bach, Brahms, Charles Ives, Frank Martin, and Eric Whitacre, and more, as well as …more…

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO)

SPCO is the nation’s only full-time professional chamber orchestra, presenting more than 150 concerts and educational programs each year. SPO keeps its performances accessible to all audiences, with many free programs and discounts on tickets. Seats begin as low as $10, and children’s tickets (6–17) are available for $5 for all concerts with the purchase of an adult ticket. “Start the Music!”, for children 3–6; “xplorchestra!”, for 6–12; and “Family …more…

The Rose Ensemble

More than just a vocal chamber group, The Rose Ensemble uses its vast repertoire of diverse cultures to acquaint audiences not merely with the musical traditions, but also with the spiritual, political, and societal motivations that drive the music. Founded by Artistic Director Jordan Sramek in 1996, the early music ensemble performs songs spanning Mediterranean, Slavic, and Hawaiian cultures and drawing from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths. The Rose …more…

The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists

While still a relatively new ensemble on the Minnesota choral landscape, The Singers (formed in 2004) offer a varied concert experience because of their commitment to the consistent performance of contemporary compositions. Led by Artistic Director Matthew Culloton, the choir’s repertoire has featured new works by three separate composers-in-residence as well as compositions by Bach, Francis Poulenc and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The group performs roughly four separate concert programs per …more…


VocalEssence was founded in 1969 as the Plymouth Music Series by Phillip Brunelle. The organization presents concerts featuring both the full 130-voice chorus and the 32-voice professional mixed chorus. To date, VocalEssence has preformed over 115 commissioned works and has also performed Midwest, United States, and World premieres. The group’s name was changed in 2002 to VocalEssence to capture its goal of exploring the human voice, from spoken word to …more…