Accomplished classical composer Eric Whitacre has used online video to bring together singers from around the globe to participate in a virtual choir with over 2,000 voices. Unlike the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which held auditions on YouTube and then flew the musicians out to play together in Sydney, the singers in Whitacre’s virtual choir never even had to leave their homes. They recorded videos of themselves singing their parts, uploaded them to YouTube and were edited together with the thousands of other participants to create a single video of Whtacre’s choral composition, ‘Sleep’, 2,000 singers strong.
Whitacre got the idea for the virtual choir when he received a video response on YouTube from a young fan named Britlin. Britlin sent a message to him, telling him how much she has been inspired by him and his music, and singing one of the parts from his composition, ‘Sleep’.
Whitacre says, “I was thunderstruck. Britlin was so innocent, and so sweet, and her voice was so pure…Such an intimate video. And I had this idea: If I could get fifty people to all do this same thing, sing their part—soprano, alto, tenor and bass—wherever they were in the world and post their videos to YouTube, we could cut it all together and create a virtual choir.” And that’s exactly what Whitacre did. In 2010, he put out a call for singers and videos started to come in. 185 singers from twelve countries were represented and once the video was all edited together and polished, it was uploaded to YouTube and went viral, getting over 1 million views within the first month.
But Eric Whitacre didn’t stop there. He said in a video interview uploaded to his virtual choir YouTube page, “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 transcendent experience.” He decided to put together a second virtual choir, even bigger than the first, of talented singers from around the globe singing his song ‘Sleep’. The call for entries was sent out back in January and by the time they were finished they had received 2,051 videos from 58 different countries. The completed video of Whitacre’s virtual choir of over 2,000 voices will premiere later this week, Thursday, April 7, on YouTube.
Last month, Whitacre gave an amazing TEDTalk about his virtual choir project, explaining everything from how he came up with the idea to how the whole thing is put together. There’s also a sneak peek of ‘Sleep’ at the end. It really does sound and look absolutely amazing and will certainly whet your appetite for the premiere later on this week. Check out Whitacre’s TEDTalk below and let us know what you think about his project. The ways in which YouTube, social media and the Internet have brought people together from all over the world never cease to amaze me. How about you?
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.