Virtual Choir! – and then some

Helllooooooooo internet!  My name is Stephanie, and I’m a first-time guest blogger on the Ace of Geeks blog.  I’ve made a few guest appearances in the podcast itself (I think I introduced myself as the resident Pokemon trainer…?), but I’m here today to talk to you about one of my other passions: music.  And not any music, but choral music.  And not just any choral music!: I’m here to talk to you about Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, and a new project that you can participate in!


But first, here’s a poem and some background on the Virtual Choir:
There was once a man by the name of Eric Whitacre.
Who is now quite the calligrapher
of beauteous melodies, and
cluster chords – his specialty
and I’m terrible at rhyming so you should watch this thing instead:

For those of you who didn’t watch the video (shame on you, its less than 2 minutes long), the tl:dw version is that hundreds of thousands people around the world practice and record themselves singing a particular vocal part for one of Eric’s songs and then Eric’s team of engineers and musicians compile these videos together to create one enormous virtual choir.

 

You thought your choir was big?  Pfffffttttt.  This isn’t even it’s final form.


But why? What’s all of this for?“Singing together and making music together is a fundamental human experience,” says Whitacre, “and I love the idea that technology can bring people together from all over the world and get people to participate in this transcending experience.”

What’s more transcending than riding on a bacon carpet through space with a giant tabby?  MUSIC.  Weren’t you reading?  Sheesh.
And indeed, the virtual choir is viral and touching every corner of the world.  The first Virtual Choir clocked in at 185 singers from a dozen different countries.  This past year, the fourth Virtual Choir, or VC4, had nearly 6,000 singers from over 100 countries!  And here’s the fun bit – some of these singers submitted additional videos of themselves singing other parts.  This resulted in 8,400 videos being cut and mixed together to form this beauty:
Don’t worry, the song itself isn’t 13 minutes long – it just takes 8 minutes to credit all of the staff and singers.

You might be a little taken aback by the music itself – what’s up with the synth and the wubwubwubs?

The song Fly to Paradise “originated” from Eric Whitacre’s musical – Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings – which “combines styles of opera, musical theater, cinematic music, as well as electronic music techniques of trance music, ambient music, and techno to portray the story of an abandoned tribe of angels in search of their wings. Although it has various non-classical influences, it is meant to be performed by singers with operatic or musical theater backgrounds.”  (Thanks wikipedia for the description – couldn’t have put it better myself.)

I also say “originated” loosely because the original song from the musical was entitled “Bliss (This is Paradise)” but was reinvented for VC4 and was renamed “Fly to Paradise”.  It’s like the difference between “based on a true story” and “inspired by a true story”.

But Stephanie, how do you know so much about the song?


Spoilers: I own the music


I was fortunate enough to perform in a concert version of Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings at Carnegie Hall under Eric Whitacre’s direction back in the summer of 2010. I seriously think that the performance that night was the highlight of my musical career (if you want to call it that). That’s why this is all so near-and-dear to my heart. It was at these rehearsals that I got to meet a lot of amazing people, most of whom had already become familiar with one another through the virtual choir.

So, here’s the new and exciting development:

 


With a couple of grammy’s and a few million video views, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Disney now wants in on some of this delicious choir-y goodness.  HERE is where you can jump on the bandwagon (choirwagon?) and get involved!


We don’t know when the next Virtual Choir will be happening, but recording and submitting for World of Color is very VERY similar to submitting and recording for Virtual Choir and it could prove to be helpful prep for when the next VC comes along if you’re interested in joining.

Stay tuned for another post later this week about how to practice and submit a video for Glow! I’ll be taking you through all of the steps I go through when I prep for a VC video. In the mean time, if you are interested, go ahead and create an account on World of Color Honor Choir and read through some of the materials, introduce yourselves in the forums, and check out the song Glow! If you have the drive, go ahead and begin practicing. The submission date is October 6th! Right around the corner!

If you liked this post and want more, please comment and let us know!
If you want to connect to Stephanie, follow her on twitter @GirlWithABowtie
Also be sure to follow @AceofGeeks for all updates Ace of Geeks related!