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Two Incredible Weekends in a Row

March 25, 2009 at 6:45 pm UTC

A week ago Sunday (March 15th, 2009) was my first performance with DCINY, the company that I’ve partnered with for another June concert this year in NYC and four concerts next year (including two in Carnegie Hall). The performers and I had a BLAST, especially with the premiere of “Animal Crackers (Volume II).” I changed a bunch of things during rehearsal, both in the vocal parts and the piano part, constantly tweaking it and trying to make the three pieces funnier. The old Vaudeville saying is so true: ‘dying is easy, comedy is hard.’ In the end we got some great laughs from a terrific audience, and we gave one of the best performances of The Five Hebrew Love Songs I’ve ever been a part of – such musical singing, and an outstanding string quartet.

Then it was off to Minnesota for the “Eric Whitacre Extravaganza.” (I know, I know. I didn’t come up with the name). What a town! On Friday night they held a reading session for the community, and the ‘community sing’ was probably the best pick-up choir I’ve ever worked with. With another rehearsal we could easily have been ready to perform an actual concert.

I also gave three extended NPR interviews, including this one with the terrific John Birge.

Then to the concert. Over the weekend I worked with The 75 voice St. Olaf Choir; the 120 voice VocalEssence; the 36 voice Ensemble Singers; and the 170 voice Minnesota Honors Choir, whose auditioned and came to Minneapolis from all over the state for this event. And my god can the Minnesotans sing. Truly outstanding musicianship from every choir, regardless of age or experience.

The sold out show – 2,400 seats – was with one of the best audiences I’ve ever seen (heard). Just incredible enthusiasm, and a sense in the hall that these people truly adored choral music. Such a deeply spiritual experience for me.

And I premiered another new piece, Nox Aurumque, sort of a darker, brood-ier companion piece to Lux Aurumque, with the Ensemble Singers and St. Olaf combining for the premiere. And Charles Anthony Silvestri (the poet for Sleep, Leonardo Dreams, Lux Aurumque, Nox Aurumque) joined me onstage to talk about each of our collaborations together, including Nox.

At the end the concert, all of the singers came onstage (nearly 400) and we performed Cloudburst and Sleep. I can’t even begin to describe what it was like conducting that many extraordinary singers at the same time. Just… transcendent. And powerful. And frickin’ AWESOME.

The whole concert, including all of my commentary between pieces, can be purchased online through the VocalEssence website. My deepest, deepest thanks to DCINY, VocalEssence, Philip Brunelle, Dr. Anton Armstrong, Bruce Becker, Russ Christiansen, MPR, and ALL of the musicians and educators who made the past two weeks possible. WOO HOO!!!!!

  • Tessy

    WOO HOO!!! :D Thanks for letting me know about being able to purchase the concert. I'm all over it! :) I am glad you had two great weekends (it sounds like the concerts were PHENOMENAL!).

  • Tessy

    By the way…I love Vaughan William's Symphony No. 5 as well. Amazing stuff.

  • Tessy

    By the way…I love Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 5 as well. Amazing stuff.

  • Shannon

    Hi Eric,
    My name is Shannon,and my mom and I met you in Minneapolis at the concert. First of all, I would like to commend you for the impressive and completely AWESOME concert! It exceeded my expectations and my expectations were quite high. Secondly, when I met you, I forgot to ask about Lux Arumque which my high school band will be performing in May. Do you have any suggestions for how to best capture the emotion and story of the piece?

  • Eric

    Mr. Whitacre

    I was in attendance for both the community sing as well as the concert. I'd just like to thank you for a wonderful weekend of music. It was like a cold pool of water for my ears in an oasis of a shitty, choral music-less desert. Well worth the six hour drive from Milwaukee. I wish you would come to the Midwest more often!


  • chrisdonia

    Nox? NOX? You can't just mention it and not tell us more/link us to a recording/announce a publication date!!

  • Mari

    I just wanted to congratulate you on Nox aurumque! I thought the piece was successful and not only beautiful, but also very fun to sing–I am in the St. Olaf Choir. You and Charles Anthony Silvestri are a fantastic pair! His texts are just magical–I especially love Sleep. Perhaps someday I will find a long-term collaboration partner for my compositions.

    Anyhow, thank you so much for visiting St. Olaf and sharing with us your advice and stories. I find that you and I think alike.

    Have a wonderful day!

    My best wishes always,


  • Jonovitch

    Eric, I was at the community sing and the concert with my wife. She's never been in such a quality choir as the Friday night pick-up choir. As she and the rest of the singers sight-read Sleep (her favorite piece), she couldn't help but cry. She said she'll never forget it.

    On Sunday afternoon, it was all I could do to stay seated during the enormous performance of Cloudburst. Simply amazing. I was blown away. I've never heard it done better. It filled the giant hall like an actual storm.

    We busted a gut on Animal Crackers 2 (what an awesome surprise! not on the program! fantastic!), and of course my wife cried again during Sleep at the end of the concert.

    It was absolutely incredible to hear those 400 voices descend from a fortissimo gently into still silence. Beautiful. Amazing. An incredible experience.

    Please return again soon, and bring more music!


  • kurtmetzger

    We loved the Friday and Sunday concerts. I will never forget it.

    How did the dog for the blind ever stay still during Cloudburst? I think that dog should get his own song. ;)

  • Shannon

    It was so choice having you here last weekend! Can I just say that I have heard Cloudburst performed more times than many (including the premiere performance so many moons ago), and I have NEVER heard it so intensely beautiful as Sunday afternoon? Oh…and that St. Olaf choir with Water Night (my favorite piece of yours)…it was flawless AND musical. Frickin' awesome, indeed!

    Thanks for sharing your time…

  • Sam

    MAN! I wish I could have been there! Can't wait for this recording! So excited to hear all those people performing Sleep (I'm singing Tenor I in the same piece for an octet, so it will be interesting to heaer the difference). Really looking forward to The Seal Lullaby, too. I don't have that on my iPod and that has been bugging me for a while.

  • Laura

    Thanks so much for spending your Friday night with us at the community sing! I am a St. Olaf graduate, and now am getting my PhD in Neuroscience, which has left me in somewhat severe choral music withdrawal. Singing with you and the Minneapolis pick up choir gave me the chance to sing again, and we sounded GOOD! Your music is an inspiration, and an absolute blast to sing.

    For the record – you need to do this again, and next time, please do bring everything you've ever written. ;-)

    Rock on, my friend.

    p.s. you need to release 'Paradise Lost'. And maybe produce it at the Guthrie. You certainly won't have any problem packin' the seats…

  • Richard Shallbetter

    (Lord) Eric Whitacre-

    I don't know if you're aware of this… but after we all sang Cloudburst that night, it rained for the next week. Whether or not there was a direct connection, that had an effect on me that will never leave, as did the entire weekend. The whole experience was a blast, and I hope that you can come back around and do this again!

    Thanks again,
    Richard Shallbetter

  • Dalan Guthrie

    for those of you who were there…how was Nox Aurumque? i'm so anxious to here it! Mr. Whitacre! throw us a bone! :P

  • Carolyn

    Nox was so special for us to sing Eric! Thanks again for that gift!
    Had a nice time at Azia too! Don't be a stranger, come back when it's warmer too! :-)

About Eric

Eric Whitacre is one of the most popular and performed composers of our time, a distinguished conductor, broadcaster and public speaker. His first album as both composer and conductor on Decca/Universal, Light & Gold, won a Grammy® in 2012, reaped unanimous five star reviews and became the no. 1 classical album in the US and UK charts within a week of release... view full bio