“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words, and that which cannot remain silent.”
– Victor Hugo
“I don’t know if it is a spiritual, physiological or psychological phenomenon, but I believe now more than ever that singing is a universal, built-in mechanism designed to cultivate empathy and compassion.”
– Eric Whitacre
Eric Whitacre is one of the world’s most renowned classical composers.
A dashing 45 years old, he hails from Reno, Nevada, and had originally planned on becoming a pop artist before having a transformative experience singing Mozart for the first time in a college class. Eric became enamored with, and began writing pieces for, orchestra and symphony and – most especially – for choir. Since then, he has gone on to win a Grammy, top the Classical music charts, and be performed more widely than any other living composer.
Even so, I only recently discovered Eric Whitacre and his amazing work – I was introduced by a video of the TED talk he gave back in 2011 where he discusses his incredible project which he calls the “virtual choir”.
Inspired by a fan’s singing on a video, Eric decided that he was going to take conducting to a global scale. He invited singers to submit videos of themselves performing parts of one of his pieces. In compiling them together into one video, he created a virtual choir. He has now done this 4 times. The result is both astonishing and inspiring.
Check it out (be warned – the video is almost 15 minutes long, but it’s 100% worth every second):
Amazing, isn’t it?
People from all around the world, sending out their musical “messages in a bottle,” as Eric described it – thousands of voices, all singing the same song.
I love how distinct everyone looks.
I love the contrast in age and voice.
I love the differences. The variety. And that diversity only makes the music more profound.
We often discuss humanity’s talent for stirring up strife within itself, but I think that more often than not, we come together for the most wonderful of reasons. In singing together, the choir rendered moot the geographic and cultural distance between individual singers.
And why? Because of music. Because of art. Because more than anything else, people like to connect. The shared experience of creating beauty between so many diverse individuals makes the resulting choir all the more harmonious and powerful.
And that’s the most beautiful song of all.
For more of Eric Whitacre –
Listen to more here.
Watch more here.
PS – If you thought 2000 voices was impressive, you should see this video where 5905 voices sing Eric Whitacre’s “Fly to Paradise”
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