Virtual choir performances have become the norm now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But composer Eric Whitacre popularized the format 10 years ago, when he first took individually recorded performances of his music and combined the audio and video into one many-windowed, collaborative spectacular.
In fact, he's doing it again on July 19, when his Virtual Choir 6 premieres. That massive project for his new work "Sing Gently" will feature 17,572 singers from 129 countries to form his biggest virtual project to date.
"With everyone unexpectedly far apart from each other, I found myself thinking about the virtues of empathy, community and service, and a new Virtual Choir felt like a deeply human way to address all of those virtues," Whitacre says. "I tried as best I could to keep the lyrics of 'Sing Gently' straightforward and unadorned, to simply say what I felt needed to be said."
With so many virtual choir performances popping up these days, who better than Whitacre to evaluate them? We asked him to pick six of his favorite recent virtual choir videos to celebrate the coming release of Virtual Choir 6. Here are his choices.
Young People's Chorus of New York City
Whitacre says: Who couldn't love the Young People's Chorus of New York City such a vibrant sound from committed musical young singers, communicating from their hearts. It's the best of humankind asking all the right questions at this difficult time.
Whitacre says: The spectacular Aeolians' performance of "We Shall Overcome" is so poignant; the film is a moving and lasting record of this important time.
Finland's virtual choir
Whitacre says: 1075 choristers from Finland sing Sibelius' "This Is My song" ("Finlandia Hymn") as a tribute on National Veterans Day 2020.
The Stay at Home Choir/The Sixteen
Whitacre says: The Stay at Home Choir, representing 72 countries, joins the Sixteen in a stunning performance of James MacMillan's "O Radiant Dawn."
Philippine Madrigal Singers Alumni
Whitacre says: A deeply touching recording of "Be Still My Soul," by Matthew Maniano, from the ever-wonderful Philippine Madrigal Singers.
sINgSPIRE Virtual Choir
Whitacre says: And finally, "We Give Voice," by Ashley Ballou-Bonnema, a truly inspirational person. Ashley and all 14 singers in this project are living life defying their cystic fibrosis through singing. I am humbled by their strength, vision and determination.