An extraordinary musical event is our feature today.
17,572 singers from 129 countries came together to perform Eric Whitacre’s “Sing Gently” in a virtual choir.
At the end, all 17,000+ singers are shown on screen. You simply must watch to experience it.
The song is a little over three minutes long, the credits last for seven! (They list every singer involved.)
Below today’s video is a story from one of the participating singers, our daughter. Read it to see how much this event meant to singers who are not allowed to sing together during these trying times.
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For so many singers, in early April it became a jolting reality that we might not be able to sing together for a very long time. Eric Whitacre, one of my favorite choral composers, decided to write a piece for a Virtual Choir. He has done 5 other virtual choirs, the last involving Deep Space which he thought would be his final one as there was no way to top that. But as the choral community started hurting, he decided we all would need this as a way to come together. He has never written an original piece specifically for these, they always use ones from his old catalogues of originals. He is known for writing pieces with immense 10 parts, and usually uses previously written poetry for the lyrics.
This time Eric wrote the words first himself. It is about the power of singing gently …as one. He then wrote the music making it a much more simple composition than normal, accessible for any level of singer. He gathered his team at lightning speed to see if this could all happen. A website was designed with information on how to submit the videos, He was having parts recorded for us to practice with. We all saw the announcement in late April.
With my music life all but shut down, I thought I’d join just to have something different to do. Am I glad I did. By the time I submitted my video I was number 2,752 SOPRANO out of a total of 9,000+ submission of parts overall. I joined the Virtual 6 Choir facebook group where everyone was kind, helping people with technical difficulties, running virtual rehearsals, all of us going through the same ache of music loss, and cheering each other on.
By the time submissions were closed, over 17,000 people in 129 countries had sent in videos. 17,000!!!! They made the music accessible to blind singers, there were deaf signers, there were people with illnesses who can’t often participate in a choir, and so many more.
Because there were so many of us, the task of spending hours going through every submission and putting the audio and video together took until just recently. From May 15th-July 10th, which is incredibly fast! We did not have to pay to participate. The Colburn School of Music and Namm Foundation covered the cost of production. No one made a profit.
The concept of the “look” of the video itself is based on Kintsugi which is a Japanese art – a way of a broken piece of potter being put back together with gold lacquer – an object more beautiful being put back together after it had been broken. There is intention and thought behind every second of the video.
“The care and love expended on the shattered pots should lend us the confidence to respect what is damaged and scarred, vulnerable and imperfect—starting with ourselves and those around us.”
Through Facebook we have all kept in touch sharing bloopers or sharing tough times together, with Eric often popping by to update us on the process. July 19th was the world premiere. We singers from around the world sat and watched it launch with tears and a feeling of being together in a unique way. Afterwards, Eric Whiticare did a youtube video live explaining the entire process, which we were able to chat throughout and have an “after party” together. If you are curious you can watch the “Virtual Choir 6 After Party.”
I did not know, until I watched the after party, that once the music is published it will be dedicated to all of us who participated. On July 24th (*today*) the audio will be released on Spotify and elsewhere.
With most of what I do with choirs not taking place again until February, this event was a very special moment I will remember forever.