The Virtual Choir

The Virtual Choir

I found something truly awe-inspiring today.

Lux Aurumque was a project started by American award-winning composer Eric Whitacre using the Youtube social network. Inspired by a video of a young girl singing one of his pieces uploaded to the Youtube site, Whitacre had the idea to put together a unique performance of his choral piece Lux Aurumque, featuring Youtube users as the choir.

Uploading videos of himself conducting the piece with instructions, music and sheet music for the many different singing parts also published, Whitacre invited Youtube users to record videos of themselves singing the piece. These parts were then fused together to create the final piece of music, which was then itself posted on Youtube.

Be aware: the result might just move you to tears.

The title, Lux Aurumque means ‘Light and Gold’. The piece is based on a poem by Edward Esch, and was translated into Latin by American poet Charles Anthony Silvestri. It is about the birth of Jesus.

Gravis que
Pura velut aurum
canunt et canunt et canunt

warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.

“It all started with this one young girl, who sent me this video of herself singing one of my choral pieces. I was struck so hard by it; the beauty and the intimacy of it, the sweetness of it. I thought it would be amazing if we could get a hundred people to do this, cut it all together and make a virtual choir.

So I then went into the studio and conducted in total silence; I could only hear it in my head. I uploaded it all to Youtube and sent out a call to singers across the world. The response was totally overwhelming. We had 185 singers, from 12 different countries. It was all about connecting, about somehow connecting with these people all over the world; these individuals, alone, together.

For me, singing together and making music together is a fundamental human experience, and I love the idea that technology can bring people together from all over the world to participate in this transcending experience.”

Eric Whitacre’s latest project with the Virtual Choir is Sleep, featuring a record-breaking chorus of 2052 voices. Sleep was completed in January of 2011 and the video is set to be released this Spring.

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