Monday, March 22, 2010

Virtual Choirs

Last year, I wrote about the YouTube symphony, and the delicate balance such an undertaking seemed to create between democratization of music and a devaluing of what music schools stand for. At the same time, however, I realized that tapping into YouTube's potential for world-wide music making was a new frontier and it was only a matter of time before a composer latched onto it in order to promote his own works.

In that vein, I give you Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir:

Whitacre is a savvy composer when it comes to marketing himself to his fans. He started this project last summer on his blog when he put up a track on YouTube of himself conducting his piece Lux Aurumque to a piano accompaniment and provided musical instructions as to style, dynamics, pronunciation, and interpretation, much as you would preface a new work to a choir. Singers were then instructed to download the sheet music from his website, record themselves singing to this track, post the results on YouTube, and wait to see how he sculpted all the tracks together to form a virtual choir. Just think about the network he's creating for his pieces, the groundswell of support from teenagers in choir who ultimately grow up to lead school choirs of their own. No matter what you think of the musical results, the idea is really stunning.

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