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I remember the panic. The punch-in-the-gut fear. The horrible news reports from China and Italy and everywhere around the world. For the first time ever, much of the world as we knew it just stopped. But the surreal and anxious feelings did not.
Some of my international college students were sent back to their home countries. All my students were confused and frightened. Some of them got sick or had family and friends who got sick. My teaching colleagues and I scrambled to get classes online and I began Zooming with students who wanted to meet.
But my own sons, when would I hug them again? None of us knew the answer to that. Because I had been ill in February, I’d rescheduled a trip to see my son and daughter-in-law who lived 200 miles away, and now I was having to cancel for who knew how long? My other son lived in the same town as I but wouldn’t come inside the house or get close because he was afraid he’d infect me. We began using technology to see each others’ faces as we talked and checked in and encouraged each other as best we could.
A choral singer since I was a child, I’d been enjoying my return to a formal ensemble after some years away, and just six weeks before the lockdown, had finally begun voice lessons–something I’d wanted to do since high school. Group singing and all singing for me was gone by March 10, though. As the lock down continued and the infection rates soared, my anxiety became bigger than my desire to sing.
The first tickle of change happened when I saw that Eric Whitacre was offering VC 6 as a response to the pandemic. Could I be part of it? Being in one of his VC productions was a dream I’d had for a decade. To record, I had to rig up a goofy stand for my computer. I had to tape my phone to the computer screen. I scrambled into make up and a dress after weeks of depression, with barely energy enough to shower, much less sing. But as I stood in front of my ridiculous recording set up in the basement of my house, I opened my mouth and a great calm fell on me. I took the deepest breath I’d had for many days. Singing in VC 6 was one way to take a stand against the fear. Performing “Sing Gently” made me feel brave. It made me feel at peace. It made me feel strong.
“Sing Gently” was a gift for me but also for our VC 6 online community. It was a gift for all the people who attended the July release. It kept on giving long after, each time someone new heard the song or saw the video. “Sing Gently” offers a message for the people of the world. Be there for one another. Look out for one another. In whatever way you can or with whatever technology works.
“Sing Gently” makes us believe it is possible we can learn how to be together better, whether it is differences or circumstances that isolate us. “Sing Gently” reminds us to listen for the other voices. They’re there. Always. And because they are there, there is always the potential for harmony.
Shared by: Deborah Brothers
I really enjoyed being a pert of this world-wide art. I’ve sung literally my entire life and this was the most fun I’ve had while learning new music, I can’t wait for the next one!
Shared by: Seth Goff
This little painting is something I made last year in the afterglow of Sing Gently’s premiere, my feeble attempt at expressing what it had come to mean to me. There are some things words can never fully say.
I’ve been meaning to write here since the platform was created, but never got around to it for one reason or another. But the other night as anxiety kept me awake, I decided to revisit our song. Hearing it again brought all the memories and emotions flooding back, and seeing Eric’s recent announcement about the one year anniversary celebration was the motivation I needed to finally take the time to write some of them down.
Vc6 was one of the richest, most rewarding and far-reaching experiances of 2020. It gave me the priceless gift of human connection and kindled a new love for the incredible, complex instrument that is a choir. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and discovering this unique way to experience it with others has been one of the main things keeping me sane during this season. It was and has continued to be such a positive force for my mental and emotional health.
When I found the project, it was towards the beginning of the whole mess of a year, when every aspect of our lives was so abruptly and unthinkably changed. Fear and uncertainty permeating everything, the things we love to do and the people we love to be with stripped away. Anger and division were the main themes in the news. I was feeling especially alone and needing desperately to be part of something when the idea popped into my head to search for virtual choirs. And through fate or destiny or the hand of God, my search led me to Sing Gently.
At the time I had no idea what a precious treasure I’d found. I wasn’t even familiar with Eric Whitacre or his work. (I’ve since cultivated a passionate love for both.) I didn’t know that by signing up, I was opening the door to an already strong and growing community of some of the most talented, creative, and genuine music lovers I’ve ever had the pleasure of “meeting”. People from the far reaches of the earth that I never would have come in contact with any other way.
Though the choir was made up of so many people of different countries, cultures, backgrounds and beliefs, the music transcended all barriers and united our hearts in a beautiful mosaic of humanity in its purest form.
The choir page on Facebook became one of my favorite places to be. It was unlike any online group I’d ever been a part of, so uncharacteristically uplifting and cheerful. Everyone was incredibly kind and supportive. We were really just a bunch of excited, goofy music geeks having a months long choir party.
I renember the YouTube lives, all of us in our respective homes in our respective countries and time zones, crowding together in Eric’s virtual living room to chat about the piece or participate in rehersal sessions. These were such beautiful times of warmth and hilarity and connection, the communing of kindred spirits. During each session I’d find myself with a big cheesy grin on my face. Eric was somehow able to make you feel like he was talking to you, and that the space between us was hardly a factor. That “hey gang” was always a bright spot in my week.
Something I remember vividly is singing the song “together” during a full choir rehersal. I had tears streaming down my face and could barely sing I was so choked up. Sure, I was alone in my room and could hear no one’s voice but my own. But still it was as if we took that first intimate, intentional breath together. The energy, the emotion, the warm presence of everyone joining hearts in those moments was positively electric, profoundly tangible even through a screen and across the space of miles and oceans. This is the power of music, the power of VC6.
As incredible as it was to see the finished product, what means the most to me was the process. Working hard together with so many people on something so meaningful. Learning, sharing the struggles, laughing together. Celebrating each other’s personal victories and supporting each other through hard times. Conquering our fears, finding the courage to do something so vunerable as standing in front of a camera, alone, and singing.
It was a bittersweet thing when what we had worked for for months came to fruition. It was all I’d hoped for and more, and at the same time I was heartbroken to see this beautiful endeavor come to an end. But then again, to me it’s never really ended. The song is a part of me now, part of my history and the history we shared together. The family, the community this project brought together is still alive and well. I am now a member of many other virtual choirs that have stemmed from VC6, and each one is a joy and a privilege to be part of.
It was an experience like no other to be involved in the creation of VC6, to see it’s birth and watch it grow beyond anything we could have imagined. It was an incredible honor to sing the world a song it’s never heard before, to be part of this monument of sound erected to a pivotal moment in time and in our lives.
Though the year 2020 was one of isolation, in some respects I felt more connected than I’d ever been. When I look back, amid all the darkness of loss, change, and uncertainty, there will always be a light, and that light is Sing Gently. VC6 is forever imprinted on my heart.
Shared by: Alana Keener
I always wanted to participate in one of Mr. Whitacre’s virtual choirs, but always seemed to find excuses and let life get in the way. At the end of 2019, I was diagnosed with cancer in one of my ears. I had trouble hearing prior to that and it was affecting my ability to sing. Flash forward to February of 2020, I went through a 12 hour surgery to remove the cancer. It was very difficult for my family as we also had an infant to take care of. I was lucky to get the surgery taken care of prior to the surgery center going into lockdown due to COVID.
2020 was by far the most difficult year of my life. Dealing with the aftermath of the surgery and radiation treatments was so much harder then it maybe should have been while being isolated due to COVID. I was missing singing together with others more than I would ever imagine.
Then I received the email about Sing Gently. I knew right away that I had to put aside all excuses and finally submit a video. What an amazing experience. I was feeling a little self conscience that I wasn’t singing at my best due to my limiting hearing, but I am so glad that I put my doubts aside and submitted a video. While it did not completely replace making music together with others in person, it was an experience that I will never forget. My family, my baby boy and Sing Gently are what kept me going. Kept me motivated when I couldn’t eat during radiation. Kept me thinking positive. I am so thankful for this beautiful song that Mr. Whitacre wrote and for this whole experience. I’m thankful for everybody involved that worked so hard to put this all together. And finally I’m thankful to have experienced making this beautiful song with so many wonderful singers. 2020 has become a years of thanks for me!
Shared by: Brian Friend
I fell in love with a “flying Dutchman”…..literally. In the summer of 2011, I relocated to the Netherlands not knowing anyone except my boyfriend, not knowing how to speak the language, and leaving behind my friends, family, work and everything I knew that represented me. It was quite the challenge. But as they say, “Love is blind.”
In the beginning, I spent many months “alone in my head.” My future mother-in-law didn’t speak English (or Italian). This however, didn’t stop her from trying to communicate with me. At first, making sounds to mimic animals, cars, and people, coupled with hand gestures (something we Italians know all too well….lol) was our way of having a conversation. Surprisingly, we did quite well!
It wasn’t until I discovered she was a choral director for a women’s group in an assisted living facility that we then began communicating on a whole, different level. From my early days in grade school, I was always part of a school choir and in later years, a lead singer in a local band for over a decade.
We shared a love of music! Dien (my mother-in-laws name) taught me many beautiful Dutch songs. I sang in her choir throughout the years that followed. And then by chance, I stumbled across a TED-Talk featuring you, Mr. Whitacre discussing your music and the virtual choir. Within minutes, I researched when the next project would launch and to my surprise, it was Virtual Choir 4 “Fly To Paradise.” I couldn’t wait to tell my mother-in-law!
The next 2 weeks we spent practicing our vocal parts and perfecting our video submissions. It was sheer joy for us. Something we shared a love for, encouraging each other, explaining the translation into Dutch, spending hours together, and making a permanent bond as a mother and daughter-in -law.
Music has always been a part of my life. Its significance is greater than anything most people are aware of. It fills your soul and brings people together on a different energy level that words alone can’t express. The feelings music generate are heavenly. Our participation in your virtual choir is one I will never forget. And it goes without saying, I am grateful for you, your music, and its ability to connect us all.
Attached is a picture of my in laws, Dien and Ben. I love them dearly!!
With much appreciation,
Shared by: Triscia PK
Working on VC6 in 2020 coincided with my recovering from surgery I had right before the pandemic kicked in. It was a welcome focus…as I had to go “cold turkey” as all 3 of my choirs shut down. The camaraderie that developed between singers through a FB group organized to help each other out became my link to other choir nerds such as myself. We shared our foibles in self-videoing…cats meowing, equipment falling down, singing the wrong words, etc. My husband would participate but only if I figured out the technical aspects. It took me a couple of days (not kidding…well with trying to make sure cat didn’t meow and equipment didn’t fall and not while people were working virtually from home so it was at night.) Of course he sat down and did only two takes….and he is clearly visible in the middle of a small group singing VC6….not that I’m jealous or anything….
The bottom line is that many of us are not comfortable singing alone in public. Though our voice was going to be mixed with thousands, we knew SOMEONE else was going to hear us. We sound (much different than we expect. VC6 FB members cheered on each other. Through it all, Eric treated us like his choir…. just like any director. It felt personal. We learned how to be in a virtual live choir rehearsal that most of us are now having with our own hometown choirs. Eric connected with us and through him we connected with each other. The end product made me understand the importance to me of singing with others.
Thank you, Eric, for helping each of us feed each other’s soul at a very difficult time in our collective lives.
Shared by: Judith Harvey
When I was reading about VC for the first time, I was immediately fired up to participate, and I was immediately thinking: it is and it will be huuuge. I was looking for music from VC previous projects, I have heard whatI found, and I wanted to become a part of VC too.
I’m so happy to be part of the VC5 and VC6. I am so proud. And I am thankful.
VC is like a new, beautiful, and just better world, where all of us want to spend time, to take part, to give our talents and hearts.
The new Album “Sing as One” has already arrived, so I fly with joy and pride :-) :-) :-)
Thank you, Eric, for your fantastic work, and to all of those who are working with you on all of those projects. I wish you all everything the best and I look forward to further projects together.
Best greeting for all of you, Lucy (Lucyna), polish woman who lives in Germany :-)
Shared by: Lucyna Wojtyna-Pietrzak
I had heard of Eric’s VC’s a long time ago but I never felt like I was good enough to participate. I longed to give it a try with Sleep but in the end I didn’t…
Then, in January 2017, Eric came to Belgium for some concerts and a one day workshop, organized by Koor&Stem, with the choir Viermaliks. We – my two daughters and I – immediately subscribed and were lucky to attend this workshop together with about a hundred singers! We sang Lux Aurumque and… Sleep!
I can never forget this day in my life, I learned so incredibly much! Eric explained how he had composed the songs, using a kind of graphic charts which seemed to dance and fill the hall we were in. And then we sang Sleep and there was magic in the air!
After the workshop we met Eric and I remember telling him that a loved one had recently died. We were talking about life and death as if we had known each other forever, it was a conversation of the heart.
Back home, we were surprised with a video that was made while we were singing Sleep:
After the workshop I felt very empowered, so I decided I would join Eric’s VC’s. I am in VC5 and, of course also in VC6. Sing Gently helped me through the first months of lock down, in which I also took care of one of my daughters who was very ill at the time. She was was the one empowering me to practice, sing and record!
I still Sing Gently from time to time, especially when things get tough. I miss singing in my choir so much it hurts. So after VC6 I first joined a local VC, then Sing Out Strong and now I sing with the Stay At Home Choir where I just finished my third project.
Dear Eric, if it wasn’t for you, I would maybe still be doubting myself. Now, last September I joined Organum, a choir that helps me get out of my comfort zone. And Sleep is in the repertoire!
Now we are silenced again. But it’s like the silence after sleep… sleep… sleep……. with a promise of the birth of singing again!
Thank you Eric! Thank you so much!
Shared by: Anne Martine Humblet
I am very interested in distance education and have an open mind about using the modern ‘Web 2.0’ technologies that seem to be a qualitatively different way of interacting with people from the very early days of the Web in the mid 1990s. Somehow, as one does, I stumbled across the TED Talk that Eric gave that described the experience of VC1 (‘Lux Arumque’) and then the world premiere of VC2 (‘Sleep’). I mean the talk was mesmerising, the music was out of this world, the described experiences – I think my jaw bruised from hitting the floor.
YouTube kindly provided VC3 (‘Water Night’) and I thought ‘Darn, I’ve missed the bus, I would have loved to have experienced this!’ I remember showing my friends and colleagues who were equally blown away. I did however, have the gumption to sign up on the Virtual Choir site for notifications on any potential future virtual choirs. And then a few months later an email popped up from Eric saying that VC4 was happening. Long story short, I submitted two voices. I must have tried recording each one about 5 times. I remember the recording which was just with headphones with incorporated microphone, it was late at night because I didn’t want to disturb my wife and daughters. OK, the truth is I didn’t want them laughing at me! ;-) I remember though that at the time there were a lot of deadlines that I had to complete for my other ‘paid’ work and so in the end, very dissatisfied, I just thought ‘What the heck!’ and pressed [Submit].
I reasoned that if I was as bad as I thought I sounded, Eric’s team would simply discard the submission, and I reasoned that they would not post it up as a ‘Hey look at this idiot and check out how bad he sounds!’. However, I really wanted to be part of this experience as a part of my exploration about how Web 2.0 can touch and affect people particularly in the artistic realm because this seemed at the time to be unexplored.
I will say that I’m not a social media guy (Facebook? No thanks!) so I didn’t have that ongoing sense of virtual community during the recording phase, and there was no one else that I knew personally that was doing this. I should add – I live in Fiji in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – so this isn’t too surprising. However when VC4 was finally released (‘Fly to Paradise’), I was not only stunned by the different direction of the music, but also I did ‘feel’ that sense of connection to the rest of the VC4 community.
I’m no singer, but I’ve submitted to the subsequent Virtual Choirs that Eric has activated and loved taking part in each one. Virtual Choir is one of the best examples of how technology can expand and enhance the best parts of our human nature. It is not the same as a ‘live’ face to face choir, but I do not think it is worse (or better). As rich and vibrant as singing in a choir with bodies pressed either side, front and back of you, but in a different way.
Hoping for another epic, jaw dropping 10 years from Eric and his amazing team and of course the virtual choir community.
Shared by: Robin Taylor
I had seen the various Virtual Choir videos over the years, and the TED talk and had greatly wished I could have been part of at least one of them. I had been singing in choirs for most of my adult life, and through childhood and teenage years before that, but in the end, after 28 years with my last choir, various commercial recordings, TV and radio performances with them, and goodness knows however many concerts had had to reluctantly give it up due to illness, arthritis, and also an increasing conflict with my pursuits in the world of folksong. There had been a few forays back into the fray over the last 19 years but nothing major. Covid 19 arrived and scuppered any singing – folk or choral- and a friend introduced me to the Stay at Home Choir in the UK, but at the same time mentioned that she was aware that signups for VC6 were still taking place … so I signed up, with just a fortnight to go, for what I reckon will have been my biggest choral experience, both in terms of the numbers involved, and in terms of the emotional experience. There may have just been two weeks or rehearsing and then recording for me, but the experience carried on. The Virtual Choir family provided me with educational opportunities above and beyond the work itself – it continues with occasional Deep Dives into Eric’s works, his messages to “the gang”, introduction to technical workshops, and just that sense of “family” – or should I say “Ohana” (thanks Jack). It also led me on to the Stay at Home Choir who have adopted the same sense of enjoyment, musical opportunities, and friendship across the miles. (Indeed there are several other VC6 family amongst the membership). Without virtual choirs, I doubt that I would still be enjoying some form of choral work. Yes, it isn’t the full “real deal”, but it is still an involvement with music, singers, musicians and likeminded friends, even if some of us never meet in real-life terms.
A big thank you Eric for what you started, what you are still doing, and just your sheer immense communication of the joys of singing and your provision of inspiring works to sing. I look forward to seeing where this leads.
Shared by: Irene Shettle
I saw the 1st VC and was hooked. Joined his page and signed up for the newsletter so I would know when the next one was. I did all of the following virtual choirs. By the time Fly to Paradise came out, my daughter wanted to sing with us. Much to her joy and surprise, she got the OK and became Eric’s youngest VCer!!!!! At 6 years old, she started a trend. Fast forward a few years and I managed to get her to meet Eric!!! We drove 9+ hours to Connecticut and we met Eric and got to meet some other VC family as a bonus. We had to leave at intermission because I had to drive all the home cause hubby to to leave out(he drives semi). Despite that, we had a wonderful time and pnut was all smiles. Practically glowing!!! We are still adding VC family to our ever growing group and are planning on meeting up with some on our travels. And it all started with Eric. Thank you❤😊❤
Christine, Ally P-nut, Chris & Alex
Shared by: Christine Carpenter
When I saw Mr. Whitacre’s first four virtual choirs, I was simply in awe. I knew that it something stunning, and that was pretty much it at the time. I wanted to sign up for one, but the deadline for VC5 had passed. When VC6 launched, I knew that this was my chance to be greater than something I could ever be. Once the finished product was released, I was overwhelmed at the results which it had garnered. I almost forgot that I myself was even but a small part of this experience. This was more than just a choir- it was an experience which will never be forgotten. Thank you Mr. Whitacre for this amazing opportunity which is sure to be long remembered.
Shared by: Samuel Lingen
I sang in Eric Whitacre’s VC5 and the recent VC6 ..
Initially during the covid-19 lockdown, there was so much uncertainty and fear. We all came to point that panicking and worrying isn’t the way to carry on. "Sing Gently" came to our lives at the right time. It gave us HOPE and a sense of belonging. Every one of us sang with our hearts and souls in this amazing production. The outcome was stunning. Thank you Eric and your team!
Shared by: Angie NG
I’ve had the honor and privilege to know Eric since 2007 when I was a college student at the University of Northern Colorado, under the direction of Professor Galen Darrough with the Concert Choir. Eric came to guest conduct our group that year and we sang his piece "Sleep", for the audience. It was my first introduction to Eric’s body of work as a choral composer, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Eric’s chord clusters, use of choral and polyphonic textures all wowed me when I first heard them and I’ve continued to listen to his music as some of the most awe-inspiring works ever to bless my ears.
The very next year in 2008, Eric returned to Denver, CO to perform his works with Richard Larsen and Kantorei choir, a professional ensemble. My best friend Dave (and guide dog, Katie) and I attended the concert and it was one of the most magical evenings I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. (See the attached picture of me and Eric.) (A funny side note; I was probably the most casually dressed person in attendance at that concert, but I didn’t care; To take a picture with Eric was a dream come true for me, because I knew that he was a choral composer who would create incredible pieces of music in years to come.)
Three years later in 2011, Eric again returned to Denver, as part of the Southwestern American Choral Director’s Association Conference (SWACDA), held only every few years for music educators, musicians, and choral ensembles from around the country and abroad. It was during this conference that I learned he had created Virtual Choir 1 (but I had missed out on being a part of it), and so I vowed to being a part of Virtual Choir 2.0 – "Sleep", which held a special place in my heart, being the first piece of music I’d sung of his (four years prior in college).
Ever since VC2 premiered to worldwide acclaim, I joined again for Virtual Choir’s 3, 4, 5 and most recently, 6 – "Sing Gently". (I was also a part of the Honor Choir that sang "Glow".)
Each time I’ve been thrilled to see the choir expand from a few thousand singers to well over 17,000 singers. Our "VC family" continues to grow and flourish and it amazes me to see how connected all of us are to the music one man has created. It is a gift that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Thank you, my fellow vocalists, and thank you, Eric, for the gift of this vocal community. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Shared by: Jon Fisher
Eric, darling Eric, You have donate to me a big emotional experience. It’s not simple for me to explain what I have listen in to my heart (i am italian and my english it’s not good). When we have take our videos for Sing Gently, we was terrify….I was cant sleep, I was up until 4:00 am, every night. I’m also a musician inside a orchestra and our activity it was stopped immediatly. Exteriorly i was strong for my daughters, and my family, but inside my world was lost….for ever. In that moment Eric has give us a light to follow, had give us a motivation, has give a "job" to do, has give a hope and together we have pass trought the most bad and terrify moment in our life, with a smile on our faces. I dont think that Eric know really what has give at those 17000 people. It’s an enormous thing!!!!!
Every time I listen to Sing Gently, I hear all 17,000 and more singers, singing along with me and tears come down every time. It’s an indescribable emotion. I do not know how to thank you Eric Whitacre and how to thank all the people who sang together and me and all the people who worked on the realization of this extraordinary project. And the biggest thing is that my daughters ( 2 and 4 years old) they love the song Sing Gently. They don’t understand the words, they love the music and the positive vibrations. And every week they ask me "mom, we want hear "Gently!!". This is the GIFT!!! Eric, I will never stop to say Thank you for this. Love for you and your family, and stay safe!!
Shared by: Barbara Sorbara
I’ve been singing for years, and when I joined middle school choir at North Harrison High School, I never knew I would gain such a strong love for choir and choral music that I would end up participating in a worldwide virtual choir. For years, I’ve watched Eric Whitacre’s virtual choirs, and I had always imagined how cool it would be to sing in one. I had admired him as a composer for the work he had done with Virtual Choirs 1 through 5 and found it amazing that a choir could come together and sound the way his did without ever meeting together. While 2020 may not have been the best or the easiest year for singers and choirs, Virtual Choir 6 was definitely the highlight of my year.
A friend that graduated from my high school a few years back shared a link to Virtual Choir 6 registration in the spring, shortly after everything had been shut down from the pandemic and the rest of my sophomore year had been called off as virtual. I wanted to take the opportunity to sing with a choir since my high school choir no longer had the chance to go to ISSMA competitions, and I missed singing in a choral group setting. I also knew music connected individuals in a way that other things couldn’t, so I took it as an opportunity to truly experience that idea.
Up until I did VC6, I had no idea how inspiring music would become to me when I saw it connecting me to countless other people across the world. But seeing the unity of thousands of individuals coming together to make something so beautiful all for the sake of music was awe-inspiring. The comments on rehearsals, the profound questions, and the social media outlets where everyone shared thoughts, videos, and ideas showed me how small my little world of choral music is. I will never forget, nor regret, taking part in such a universal event.
After I signed up, I immediately printed out the sheet music to "Sing Gently" and began rehearsing the alto line, which I fell in love with as I learned the swoops and swells. I attended all of Eric Whitacre’s rehearsals and made notes in my music as he explained the interpretation of it. (Y’know, the rehearsals where he also not-so-secretly said altos are his favorite and that he gives his favorite lines to the altos…) The "golden brick" of his pieces, the emotions clashing notes can bring, the overall simplicity of the piece, and the musicality of his piece really taught me how to interpret a piece and taught me more about Eric and his style of music.
I had the entire piece memorized in only a week or so simply because it really hit home with me. The lyrics were so simple yet so powerful. It embodied the emotion of separation from one another, but also the hope of eventually singing together once more. The more I sang it, practiced it, and studied it, the more attached I became to it, and now, looking back on it only a few months after its release, I can truly say it will forever be a song I hold close to and in my heart. "Sing Gently" will always be a reminder of this year, the year choirs couldn’t sing together in-person.
I cherish the day and the moment when I first heard and watched the premiere of "Sing Gently." The power of all the voices finally combined sent shivers through me, and I will admit that I teared up a little. It hit me with such a strong force, finally hearing it after counting down the days of its release after recording my individual contribution. The sound was simply beautiful, and any listener, chorally trained or not, could feel the emotion of the song and its impact. The way the creators of the video slowly connected all of the videos until they had joined together as one really contributed to how special the video was and continues to be.
This experience with Virtual Choir 6 has meant more to me than words can express. I may only currently be a high school junior with my sights set on choral music education, but my journey with VC6 will be something I share with countless students yet to come. Being able to still sing and be apart of a choir when I felt the absence of daily choir developed my understanding of music’s power and solidified my wish to share the gift of music with my future students. I truly enjoyed the spirit of the entire project and the many choral and alto-related jokes.
I don’t know if this will be the last of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choirs, but I couldn’t be more grateful I was at the right place at the right time and had the opportunity to participate in it. "Sing Gently" will always be one of my favorite songs and a song deeply rooted in my heart.
A sincere thank you to the one and only Eric Whitacre, his lovely wife, producers, and other hardworking members of his team for the time they took out of their lives to bring Virtual Choir 6 to life and make it a truly special experience for many. I have profound respect for all that you do.
Till next time!
VC6 Alto – 2020
Shared by: Emma Griffiths
This amazing lady – Britlin Furst – came into my life as a result of VC6. She had taken part in all of Eric’s previous virtual choirs. We met virtually and shortly after the launch of sing gently we made friends and she has supported and inspired me to return back to the piano and write songs, something I had aimed to do in the future. Britlin is inspirational to many and has written her own VC1 with many more projects to come.
Thank you, Eric, for writing such a wonderful piece of music and enabling likeminded people to come together and form long-lasting friendships. I look forward to your future projects Eric, may you continue to bring joy through music.
Shared by: Victoria White
Ciao a tutti dall’Italia. Canto in un coro da più di 40 anni e quando il lockdown ci ha costretto ad interrompere le prove ho avuto un senso di vuoto. Ringrazio Eric perchè grazie al VC6 non solo ha dato a tanti coristi sparsi per il mondo l’opportunità di continuare a cantare, ma ha dato anche la possibilità di creare legami autentici attraverso la Musica, ispirando tanti di noi ad essere empatici, a sostenerci l’uno con l’altro, ad essere una sola voce. Mi ha reso felice essere una goccia in questo grande oceano di emozioni. Per questo ho scritto nel mese di luglio poche righe, dedicandole a tutti noi.
Anno 2020: a causa della pandemia
sono chiusa in casa mia.
Niente coro, niente canti:
solo silenzi assordanti.
una luce illumina la mia mente
e decido di fare qualcosa per me inusuale
unendomi al VC6, il più grande coro virtuale.
Mai scelta fu più azzeccata:
ne sono orgogliosa e onorata.
Non avrei mai potuto immaginare
ciò che a distanza Eric avrebbe potuto creare.
Non solo migliaia di voci provenienti da ogni dove,
ma anche empatia, storie ed amicizie nuove.
Un filo d’oro, prezioso e luccicante,
mi lega ormai ad ogni singolo partecipante.
Le nostre anime si intrecciano, nota dopo nota,
grazie a questa esperienza a dir poco meravigliosa.
Tanti cuori diventano un unico cuore
che batte all’unisono per un mondo migliore!
Shared by: Raffaella Vitale
I’m sure my story echos many others here. I’m strictly a choir singer, then COVID hit and all of a sudden and it all came to an abrupt end. My community choir, Church choir and our Thursday jamming group. They all stopped at once. At the same time, our Physical Therapy practice was getting slower and slower, and eventually came to a halt. But then, Eric’s V6 email came to the rescue! I had it in my head to try a virtual choir ever since I heard of the concept, so I joined Eric’s email list, but between work, family and my other choir responsibilities, the timing was never right until VC6.
I thought, I was just signing up to sing a song, but I learned the group is so much more! What a great community of caring people it turned out to be!
I also learned a few things along the way. Fist of all, perfection is over rated – that’s why I’m a choir singer, and not a soloist! Second, take opportunities to learn a new song, or try and different voice part of a song you know – who will know if you mess up in groups this size!
Thank you to Eric and your team for the opportunity to be part of this amazing group!
Shared by: Cathleen Latoof
I’d always wanted to be part of one of the virtual choirs that Eric Whitacre produced, but it just never happened. Then I saw an open invitation. For me, the "Sing Gently" virtual choir in response to the pandemic was exactly what I needed. The love of music, the engagement that comes with performing, the thrill of making such sounds was something I had lost in the chaos. It will forever be a performance I am honored to have participated in.
Shared by: Alexis Scangas
On a stormy Sunday morning in the UK in the middle of Lockdown 2.0, I have sat down and read the lovely stories of fellow VC participants and I am reduced to tears (again).
10 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, no lum, just a hunch that something was not right. After a year of treatment, I returned to my wonderful choir Excelsis and the first piece that I sang was Eric’s "Sleep". Even to this day, I can not sing this beautiful piece of music without being reduced to tears.
Since then I have remained healthy and cancer-free, for which I am externally grateful, performing in amazing concerts and taking part in workshops in the UK, Europe and the US. But VC6 (Sing Gently) has been the first Virtual Choir project that I had taken part in and what a wonderful, uplifting and supportive experience it has been. The joy of being able to connect with singers and musicians from all over the world and sing "together" has at times been overwhelming; listening in to Eric’s "deep dives" so inspirational and charged with emotion.
The words "Thank You" really do not convey what I feel – I can only hope that there will be a time when we will be able to "Sing Gently" together again…
Shared by: Barbie McSean
I remember doing the first one more than a decade ago. The deadline was New Years Eve, and I was a whitewater kayaker at the time, on our annual winter holiday to the mountains crammed into a rental house with a dozen other smelly unwashed and unkempt college students to run the local rivers. Because I’m a procrastinator, I waited until the day of the deadline to record my video. I had barricaded myself into the farthest room from the living room where they were chugging beers and cooking chili and having a good time, and I was standing alone with my head in a closet wearing torn board shorts and a pristine long sleeved black shirt, and a week’s stubble. I got my tracks recorded eventually, after a few takes being ruined by cheering from the lads. Only problem though – this was 2009 in rural south west Ireland, on a dark Thursday evening, and not only did the house not have internet, there were no internet cafes for miles around, likely in the entire county. My procrastination had bitten me in the ass, it seems!
I went back to the guys in the living room and shared my glum story.
One of my mates was studying computer science at the time, and told me he might have a solution. He had a tool on his laptop that could break into the wifi connection of about 70% of all houses in Ireland, and if I wanted, I could just head into the local village and try and find a network that was open to being hacked, and then I’d be good to go. Success? Maybe!
So I hopped in my 14 year old banger of a Ford with a borrowed USB drive full of network cracking tools, and headed the ten miles into town. After driving up and down the streets, I managed to find a small housing estate, and I started wardriving – slowly passing form house to house, hoping to find a signal strong to connect to from the road, and open to being hacked. After ten minutes of cruising around creepily at five miles staring at my laptop on the seat next to me, I managed to find an accessible wifi signal, but it kept kicking me off as I was at the limit of its range, so I had to turn the lights off on the car and creep down their driveway as close as I dared, and hit the upload button. Sat there for 9 uncomfortable minutes, watching my laptop battery slowly die before I finally got the wee notification that it had uploaded. I would normally have checked and verified that it worked, but I saw some twitching curtains in adjacent houses that made me scarper, and headed back to the kayaking house for some celebratory brews with the boys.
Shared by: John Kennedy
In early May, I stumbled upon this Facebook post shared by the daughter of a friend:
“Virtual Choir 6 is live! Head over to virtualchoir6.com to hear the music and begin learning your part. Remember, the Virtual Choir is open to EVERYONE. There are no auditions and no age restrictions. There are even tools to help you learn the song by ear if you don’t read music. Come join the choir, and together we will make something beautiful, delicate, and true.”
I missed singing in person with my chorus. Our spring season was cancelled before it even began. I had never heard of Eric Whitacre (sorry…) and didn’t know about virtual choirs. As an average singer in a local, non-auditioned women’s chorus, I thought, "Maybe I can do this." So I took the plunge and signed up. Then I heard Sing Gently. Those words, that melody, those harmonies moved me to tears from the moment I heard that first plaintive note on the piano. A few weeks — and twenty-three takes later — I sent in my video. It wasn’t great but it was okay. And it was done. And it made me feel good.
But most amazing and heartwarming was the entire VC6 family helping and supporting each other through the entire process. From online rehearsals to setting up our (often precariously stacked!) recording equipment, Eric, his team and all 17,562 of us who submitted recordings were there for each other. And we still are! Six months later, many of us are still chatting, sharing jokes, suggestions for other virtual choirs to join and snippets about our lives in general. It’s beautiful.
I am so glad I got over my nerves and insecurities and just did it. July 19 was a proud day for the entire VC6 family. Since then, I’ve participated in several other virtual choirs, learned a lot (about myself, too) and connected with other singers from all over the world. These are trying times and music helps ease the worry.
Shared by: Catherine Panek
A friend told me about the VC6 project and I thought "There’s no harm in having a look". As soon as I heard Sing Gently, I was hooked. The music and lyrics were perfect for the times and the possibility of giving joy and hope to others through singing was irresistible. I had joined Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus and so had been singing for 45 minutes or so every weekday evening for weeks and I had got back the buzz from the experience of singing on a regular basis.
From the age of 14 to 21, I spent most weeks singing twice a week (three times towards Christmas) with the Hartlepool Youth Choir (HYC) under the direction of the wonderful Chris Simmons. I then had many years with no choir at all and missed this very much. My choir family is now the ex-members of the HYC, who get together once or twice a year to sing over a weekend, performing a concert which raises money for local charities. We have had to cancel 2 concerts this year, which would have been the choir’s 50th year anniversary.
Sing Gently has been a blessing, the VC6 community is wonderful. The experience has opened my eyes to a whole new world of new choral music. The Sacred Veil is just awe inspiring. Joining Eric and Tony talking about the individual movements and then listening to them live online with the composer and author of the lyrics was incredible. Something I had never ever thought I would do.
Finally, I would like to dedicate my contribution to this project to my wonderful and loving dad, Brian Quinn, who was taken all too soon from us in 2009. I know that he would be proud and he would absolutely understand the concept of Singing as One to bring joy to others. Love you Dad xx
Shared by: Geraldine Donworth
Our contribution, my son’s and myself’s was for the Virtual Choir 4. I was a sort of singer in this story and my son, JP Fassnidge, a Law student at the time, also loved singing. He did all the connections to cameras, tvs, microphones, etc and he rehearsed both of us and prepared our vocal contribution. We loved the idea that this performance was going to be shown to the Queen, being both expats living in Chile. It was such a wonderful experience for both of us and we loved the visual presentation at the final concert via the link it was sent to see it displayed in situ.
I am enclosing a picture of my son in this adventure in full recording of his voice. He is now an accomplished lawyer and is doing a PhD at Edinburgh University, thus returning home. I am still living in Chile and being him my only family, it is a bit lonely at the moment with the pandemic and the lockdowns. Still, Whitacre’s music is wonderful and will survive all these difficult moments for everyone…it soothes the souls of so many. Thank you Eric for your creativity and compasion. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Shared by: Mariana Fassnidge
Dear VC Family,
Firstly, what an honor this was. I have wanted to do this since I saw the first Virtual Choir sing Lux Arumque. Every time a new one was announced I’d say “self, you gotta do this.” Ultimately I’d talk myself out of it. I had all of the usual excuses: “I’m not good enough, I don’t have time, it’s too hard, I don’t know what I’m doing.” Yadda, yadda, yadda.
I’ve been singing my entire life. I was the oldest of 3 girls and my mother said I really didn’t talk as early as some children do, but I did sing. She said I started singing between 2-3 years old. Songs I’d make up about my day – nonsense songs, repeating what was on the radio, repeating songs she & my grandmother would sing to me. I grew up in a household of music. My mother sang constantly – mostly Broadway musicals but also folk songs. Roadtrips to New England for the holidays always included singing as a way to pass the long time in the car with 3 kids all under age 8. She’d assign each of us a part and we’d sing in rounds (canons) – The Happy Wanderer was a favorite. I was in one of the first children’s choirs in my area, I sang in church & school choir, I took piano lessons & then got my first guitar for Christmas when I was 12 years old and taught myself all of the main chords by the end of Christmas day. I sang background in a local band when I was in my 20s and then for some reason, lost the music. Later, in my 30s I found it again, joined a local community choir, sang in choir festivals, in a summer masterwork choir and picked up the guitar again – later in my 40s had a little country/bluegrass trio.
Then 2020 hit and the singing ended. Sure, I still sang by myself with my guitar or if my husband played his guitar – sometimes singing along with a YouTube video or CD. The community of singing ended – Monday evening rehearsals, a mainstay of my life for decades, was suddenly gone. The nervous butterflies before a performance were gone. Then suddenly Sing Gently was there! I didn’t see how it would ever replace the community I’d been part of for so many years, but I knew that even though I was now in my 60s, I had to finally swallow my fears and sing this beautiful piece. It was terrifying – I did so many takes I made myself a nervous wreck! Then finally one I thought was perfect! I got ready to send it then double-checked the rules again and actually read the info about clothing. GAH!! I was wearing a multi-colored, large chevron stripe scarf in my perfect video!!! So, back to the drawing board, did one that was okay but not as good (I thought) as the original in my vibrating colored scarf. But I did it again and submitted it.
Once I submitted the video I felt such a sense of accomplishment and pride. The VC community was and continues to be such a supportive & amazingly kind group of committed artists and humans. When Sing Gently premiered, my husband and I watched it together on our large screen TV and it brought tears to our eyes. I share it constantly as a reminder to myself and others that there is still music and kindness and goodness in this “world turned upside down.” And for this, I say thank you to Eric, his wife Laurence, the VC staff and last but not least, the entire VC community.
“Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite.” Thomas Carlyle
Shared by: Cheryl S
It is the synchronicity of breathing that I miss the most. The simultaneous oscillation of air with each note sung together with your fellow choristers. The sublime magic of singing in a choir is one of the most life affirming experiences. A spine tingling exhilaration, I have been very privileged to know. There is nothing else like it, there is no substitute.
That is what lock-down took from me. Who would have thought that singing could be so dangerous! For one of the very few times, in my 76 years, I was unable to sing with a choir.
I was bereft.
My first thoughts were, maybe Eric Whitacre is doing another virtual choir? I have been lucky enough to perform some of his pieces with the University of Warwick Chorus and also have sung under his baton, along with 6,000 others, at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. I knew Eric has been running virtual choirs for ten years, although I had never actually joined one. So it was with great joy that I discovered that, current circumstances had prompted Eric to compose a piece for chorus – a reflection for our times – and he was about to launch Virtual Choir 6.
I was not alone!
I signed up.
It proved to be one of lockdown’s most enjoyable experiences. I learnt my part by singing to my computer in the spare room. The rehearsal tracks were so beautifully produced that, in the bubble of my headphones, I felt almost as if I was singing with someone else. There was a lot of distracting technology to master of course. Filming myself. Trying to look at the camera, my music and the video of Eric conducting on my phone at the same time – without wearing my glasses, (they just produced an alarming blue glare where my eyes should have been)! I had to achieve all this whilst listening intently to the voice in my headset, concentrating on keeping absolutely in tune and endeavouring to look relaxed at the same time! It took a number of attempts!
The final performance of ‘Sing Gently’ was quite stunning. To have been a very small part of it was the most memorable and positive outcome from a unique and challenging time.
Thanks for making the magic happen!
Shared by: Amanda Slater
My name is Barbara. I’m currently a music student. Singing was always something I did. I really don’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing, even as a little child. I found out about Virtual Choir from YouTube a few years ago. I was completely mind blown by the emotional magnitude and beauty of this music. From the perspective of a mixing engineer I just couldn’t imagine how you can combine thousands of voices together. My first thought was how did they do it?! Second, I want to be part of this! Where can I submit my entry? Then I realized that it was an old project so I decided to follow Eric’s facebook website and wait in hope for a new opportunity.
In 2020 when Virtual Choir 6 has been launched I was working in the studio on a different project for a Film Music Contest. I remember the difficult choice I had to make in order to get my work done, because at the same time I was taking classes at the art school where I was getting bullied. Either was to fail those classes or fail the music project. It felt completely hopeless. Then the Covid-19 hit and I couldn’t access my studio due to disinfection procedures while the deadline was near. Also I really wanted to be a part of Virtual Choir, so I took my equipment and worked at home. I enjoyed Eric’s company on YouTube while participating in rehearsals. It was such a challenge and great learning experience to sing this gorgeous choral piece with a conductor. In reality it was just me and music. There was nothing else due to lockdown. This is how I slowly separated myself from the unwanted environment. The scary thought that Covid-19 will eventually reach me one day and this might be the last time for me to sing at full lungs was just overwhelming. Music is a priority and art is just a hobby anyways. Why wasting time seeking value from people who will never appreciate the way I am. Especially now when life can be so short. I heard Eric’s story about a ceramic broken bowl where each piece got reassembled with a golden residue and looked much more beautiful than before. I didn’t realize It was actually happening to me.
I managed to finish my music project, which got into finals in a Film Music Contest and Virtual Choir 6 was also a great adventure and success. I can’t describe in words how happy I was when I watched the final outcome video. These golden lines connecting the people like the fallen pieces of a ceramic bowl. It made me realize once more that music is my passion and I should never give up. I officially wrote my resignation from art school and switched back to music school. I learned that I cannot make this world less evil but I can change myself. There is so much I can give to this world through music that’s giving me purpose to live and brings so many people together from different countries even in such difficult times.
I can’t even begin to adequately explain how being a part of the VC Family has impacted my life over the past 9 years. I missed finding Eric & VC2 by mere minutes after the final submission. So I had to “patiently” wait for VC3. This was the only VC I did pretty much by myself except for a lot of help from the tech crew when I had computer issues. From there I found VC Friends on FB and that started my full immersion into all things VC. I got active in VC4 forums to help as many of those who were having problems. Jack, Julie, Chrissie, Maria, and Sally are just the best as VC support. OHANA! And they are an extension Eric’s example of how to treat one another – with respect and lots of fun!
From the first day of the release of VC4, I had a knack for finding people in the buildings (also in Glow, VC5, VC6). People would send me a screen shot of their video, and I found hundreds of VCers that in return allowed me to make great personal connections. I also created screen shots of every frame in at the time the largest resolution so people could find themselves. From this, I have met so many IRL, so many I have talked with deep conversations, and so many I have been able to sing with not only virtually in other projects, but also on stage. There is a true sense of belonging within VC. We find out we aren’t alone with our love of music especially when one does not have the opportunity to fully express themselves through music. There have been quite a few VC research projects which I have participated that delve deeper and sum up the psychological/physiological of the how and why VC works.
However, for me personally, I am forever grateful for the relationships/friendships I would never have had in my life if i wasn’t for VC. Technology changes with how VC works, but our friendships don’t. That has been a constant. I have been blessed with several opportunities to sing with Eric, and that first collective breath of singing together that he talks about is so powerful. I can’t wait for that day to finally sing that first breath again together at Carnegie Hall under Eric’s direction. and of course, I can’t wait to see all my VC Friends again. I miss hanging out with our VC group at the Disney Hall before an Eric LAMC concert, I miss running all around NYC with my VC soulmates singing DCINY or attending EWS concert, and I miss having VC friends over to visit. But VC Friends has prepped us to handle being apart during this time. We are pros at this!
As for the behind the scenes of VC, the tales, escapades, and memories are abundant LOL. Thankfully, most of that has been documented in VC Friends group on FB.
Thank you, Eric, for creating the music and the many opportunities (and as always, I thank Julie Souin for kicking me in the butt to audition for DCINY) to hear and sing your music. My grandsons still talk about the day they met you up at Griffith Observatory for the talk on Deep Field. I became the “cool” Grama. :-)
Altos Rule Forever thanks to you!
Elisabeth Smith Cohon
A small peek into my VC Journey (I literally have thousand of VC Friends photos not included in this album):
Shared by: Elisabth Smith Cohon
I first sang an Eric Whitacre piece—the mesmerizing “the city and the sea”—in all-state chorus in high school. Some friends I met there introduced me to his virtual choir. I enjoyed the videos but never had the time to submit my own. I kept telling myself I would do it someday.
In college, some friends and I attended an open sing with Eric and his frequent collaborator, the poet Charles Anthony Silvestri, at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. We had the opportunity to meet Eric and sing “Sleep” and “Lux Arumque.” I was struck by how down to earth, friendly, and funny he was.One of the friends who had introduced me to Eric couldn’t go, so we had Eric autograph a score for him. I will never forget the look on my friend’s face when we surprised him with the score! It was one of those nights that just felt perfect in every way.
I stopped singing after college because there are not many opportunities to join a choir where I live. Virtual Choir 6, “Sing Gently,” was my first foray back into choral music. I really enjoyed the thoughtful look into the music that Eric shared in his rehearsals. It felt so good to do something I had wanted to do since I was a teen, and it meant so much to sing with friends and teachers from many stages of my choral journey, as well as thousands of people from around the world. Since then, I have felt encouraged to participate in several other virtual choir projects and ease my way back into choral singing. The global community formed through these projects has helped ease my loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I feel so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this meaningful project and for all the special memories Eric Whitacre has soundtracked. Happy 10 years, VC Family!
Shared by: Emily Schweich
I have been singing my entire life – choirs, plays, more choirs – you get the idea! I wanted to go to an arts college to study music, but my Dad refused to send me – he didn’t think I was “good enough”.
I ran across my first VC video on Youtube, and remember idly thinking how much I would love to be a part of something like that!
In July of 2019 I came down with some virus, and it stole my voice. I remember surfing on YouTube some months later and seeing that “Sing Gently” was open. I signed up. My voice was horrible, but I was determined to be a part of VC6. After days of recording and deleting, I sent in my video, and then cried big ol’ tears when it world premiered.
A huge thank you to Eric and crew for giving me the chance to do this and prove to myself that I am good enough.
Shared by: Lisa Chapman
My first virtual choir was Sing Gently. I wanted to do it because my high school choir was cancelled due to COVID, and as many of us were, I was starved for music. It was lovely to rehearse for the choir, even though it was virtual, and I got to introduce my nine-year-old sister to choral music as well. It was her first choir experience, and she did wonderfully! I can’t wait to see her grow as a musician. Thanks virtual choir, for giving me the opportunity to sing with so many other people, including my sister, in the middle of a lockdown!
Shared by: Emma Zemancik
Eric’s innovative use of technology inspired a 14-year old Robert and his 10 year old sister to learn parts and submit them for Virtual Choir Bliss. As two young Alaskans, it was very meaningful for us to participate in something bigger than our isolated little town. Eric’s harmonies and soundscapes brought up so much emotion in me that I credit this experience as being incredibly formative for the type of music I make today.
Shared by: Robert Xavier Newman
Greetings from Germany.
My Virtual Choir journey starts in 2011, I think. While surfing on YouTube a one man Choir came to my attention. This guy made a Video of himself singing Lux Arumque. Immediatly I was hooked on this Music. So I search for everything I could find about this “Eric Whitacre”. That brought my to VC 3 Waternight. That was my first one. I never sang in a choir but always wanted to, so this was my first time ever. What a fight with myself, I have perfect pitch which could be a nightmare if you hear all the misstakes your Voice made but there is no way for you to make it better, but due to the great online community which was already built, I sang it the best way possible and submit. But that was just the first step, I went to two concerts of Eric Whitacre here in Germany and met other members of the VC Choirs in person which I had never met before but know them through the online community and I met somebody of my smal, really smal hometown which ask me to join the local Gospel choir. So VC Choir brought me to Real life Choir. Since than I sang in VC 4, 5 and now in 6. And a lot of other virtual choir projects. And I fullfilled my wildest dream, because I had the Honor to sing at Carnegie Hall New York under Eric Whitacres batton in 2019. I met VC members the in Person which I only know virtual before but there are all Friends to me because I have contact to them for so long. The community is unbeliveable we share Happy and Sad News, we grieve together when somebody pass away, we celebrate Baby Birth, Birthdays and weddings. So Thank you Eric Whitacre and the whole Team for all your work and please do never stop.
Shared by: Frauke Janssen
I began to learn and love Eric Whitacre’s music during high school when I played piano in the band version of The Seal Lullaby. I practiced so much to make it sound as beautiful as I could! I participated in the next Virtual Choir as soon as I heard about it, which was VC4. My grandma was nearing the end of her life during that time, and in our last conversation, we talked about how I was recording for the Virtual Choir and what it would be like when finished. “Fly to Paradise” took on a special meaning for me, and VC4 makes me think of her.
During the COVID-19 school closures, I recorded for VC6 just as I was creating a virtual band and choir project for my students. That project gave me a glimpse into the incredible effort that goes into this process. I was happy that I was only in charge of dozens of video submissions instead of thousands! VC6 brought something beautiful to the world when we needed it most. With the trailblazing series of Virtual Choirs, Eric Whitacre and his team showed us what was possible in creating music with others while apart, which inspired and guided me in creating that artistic experience for my students.
Shared by: Matthew Doran
Oh my where to start!
Hello I am a native Ohioan who grew up singing in all sorts of choirs and chorales, as well as singing in a few coffeehouse gigs back in 1969-70 years while attending college. I joined community choirs in the various cities I have lived in over the years. I sort of thought at my age now, that I couldn’t sing or read music anymore. I had been rejected by a local chorale when I auditioned because I lived too far from the rehearsal place and my throat was scratchy!! I was soooooo down after that.
When the pandemic hit, a friend of mine invited me to try doing virtual choirs as he had recently joined Virtual Choir 6 with Eric through Facebook. Ray sent me posts from Facebook and helped me figure out some of the techy stuff after I signed up, thank goodness!
Well lo and behold! My recordings were approved and accepted for “Sing Gently” the best medicine for my low self-esteem at the time. Eric and his teams do magical things!
Since doing VC6, I am now actively involved in two other virtual choirs: The Stay at Home Choir and the San Fernando Master Chorale. And love it…
I want to say thank you to Eric Whitacre for his encouragement, patience and teachings. Also for his amazing musicianship and sense of humor and cool style!
If another Eric virtual choir opens I will be the first in line to sign up!😍
Always singing gently now.
Shared by: Becky Rohre
There has always been music in my home. I have been singing since I was 4 years old – my dad taught us Italian Alpine songs during long drives in the car (there were no car radios in those days).
I was never formally trained in music, but had enough of an ear and could read music (sort of…), so in the 1960’s I taught myself to play the guitar. I was good enough to sing both Italian and American folk songs for my friends, and accompanied my classmates during school plays (as in the attached photo from 1969-70). I sang in choruses in high school, college and during my surgical residency, but had no time for that through my years in practice as a pediatric surgeon.
Exactly 30 years after my last choral performance, now retired, I joined a community chorus, and was the first woman invited to join a previously all-male barbershop chorus. My life was once again filled with choral singing, and I had an active social life surrounding my musical activities.
Then COVID-19 hit. All of my singing opportunities disappeared, and will not be coming back any time soon, if at all. I had heard of Eric’s VC’s, and when I realized that even total amateurs like me could join, I jumped in with both feet. Sing Gently was an amazing experience, and I have been unabashedly boasting about being one of the 17,572 members of that amazing project.
Since them, I have participated in over 21 other virtual choirs, big and small, ranging from opera (the Anvil chorus from Trovatore) to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Queen, and everything in between.
My voice is not as strong as it used to be, and I am often embarrassed to even submit my recording. But then I remember that I will only be a tiny grain of sand in the huge beach that is the ensemble of the Virtual Choir, and musical geniuses will be able to make my wobbly voice blend in.
Virtual choirs have kept me sane as I now go from volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps, mostly doing community COVID testing, to trying to keep a semblance of normal life.
For me, it all started with Sing Gently, and for that I am truly grateful!
Shared by: Roberta Sonnino
Wow well Covid 19 hit the world in 2020. Here in the UK we were shocked with a lockdown in March. It was stunningly silent, the birds sang and Spring was bringing nature into life. I had to work from home, learn and master all the virtual technology. My kids were off school and college from March to September, but they amazed me by their diligence with study and online lessons. We found each other, baked, played music, drew and took many local walks together. We spent much time a the front of the house chatting to all the walkers who walked by on the way to the lovely hill we live on. We had distanced drinks with the neighbours and the weather was just fine, my roses were glorious. All my Zumba instructors set up on Zoom and we transformed the back room to the Zumba studio. The things I missed most though were my parents who live in Wales and my choir. I bravely took the step to register with VC6 and took the challenge of learning Sing Gently. I had a virtual team meeting as an Education manager, then did my recording straight after in one take. I sent it off immediately before I could talk myself out of it. I think the kids were secretly proud. I loved the summer chats on the VC6 Facebook group. This was such a great experience and thank you to all the organisers and everyone who took part for uniting the world in this way. When this pandemic is defeated we will sing as we have never sung before xxx
Shared by: Morag Bragger
I have sung in choirs my whole life. Music was a big part of growing up in my family. We all played instruments and had lessons at the Ontario Conservatory of Music. Voice lessons weren’t far behind. Every day we’d sing and harmonize around the dinner table. With 5 children my parents had their own group to entertain them. We sang all the songs from movies, Broadway and the classics. When company was over my mother had us entertain them with an impromptu mini concert lol.
Once we all moved out finding time to sing takes a back seat to raising children and the day to day needs of everything else. I finally joined a choir through the church we attended and it was definitely food for my soul. I kept it up, joining more choirs and when I moved to the Okanagan I joined the Naramata Choir. Suddenly, these truly ethereal pieces of music would pop up on our repertoire. This is amazing, who wrote this? Who is Eric Whitacre? I got a crash course with Fly-Paradise as we rehearsed it, but didn’t end up performing it.
Along came Covid-19, and the lock down. Our choir’s rehearsal space was closed and our online message board had the link for Sing Gently! 17 members joined and I jumped at the chance. This is my first Virtual Choir and I was so moved by this masterful piece.
Few pieces of music have ever driven me to tears, but I’m in awe at how every time I hear Sing Gently the profound impact of all of us together, sharing this musical experience and bathing in those inspired notes, brings that release and the tears of joy flow. I consider myself so lucky and am so proud to have been a small square in the beautiful fabric of Sing Gently.
Thank you, Eric, for your incredible talent and for allowing us all to be a tiny part of your creation.
Shared by: Sandra Curnow
My first virtual choir experience is sing gently and it is so peaceful and emotional song for my heart. I’m so proud of this project. Thank you so much for creative this beautiful song Eric! ❣️
See you soon.
Shared by: Berivan Şevli
It’s been years since I have had the bonding experience of singing your music in chorale at school. We sang Sleep, Lux and many more and I always loved your music because of the ALTO POWER! Those rehearsals were something i still cherish. So, to see that you were making a new song AND a virtual choir in the middle of Covid!? My days were scheduled around rehearsals again. It brought back so much joy as we sang along and to see the beauty in the finished product (and the bloopers haha) made me feel the unity of music again! It was a privilege to be part of something that has given me so much!!
Shared by: Joanna Bishop
Hi, I’m Holly!
My love for choir and music has grown immensely in the past two years and I am so thankful that Eric’s music is – and will continue to be- an essential part of the love for music that I have.
The entire experience of lockdown for me was something I had never expected to experience, especially in my teenage years, so it hit hard being stuck at home for such a length of time, apart from my friends, my family, my school, and choir. I received the unexpected – but welcome – news of VC6 via a Zoom call I attended in mid April that Eric spoke at, and waited anxiously for news of how I could get involved, having been mesmerised by the preceding Virtual Choirs.
VC6 could not have come at a better time.
It brought great comfort, excitement and happiness to sing again and become a part of the 17,000+ singers, and it is something I will value and treasure for the rest of my life.
Thank you Eric❤️
Shared by: Holly M
VC6 was my first foray in to a virtual choir, or virtual anything. I have been singing since the age of 10, in school choirs, acapella congregational singing in church, and acapella and barbershop groups. VC6 came at the perfect time, when I was beginning to doubt if I still could sing or perform. While my video was less than stellar, the encouragement from the other members, the beauty of the message of the lyrics, and the incredible final result of all our less than perfect voices joining together “as one” ,has touched us all. I am honored to have been a part of it. Thank you, Eric, for this gift.
Shared by: Kathi Mitts
I have been in a few of Eric’s VC and feel so blessed. beside sing gently which was what we all needed this year. One memory which truly sticks in my mind is going to Disneyland and seeing the World of Choir show which I had the pleasure of being chosen to be in the honor choir. I watched this with my 2 young kids and I teared up watching with my family. They were so proud of me and I was excited I finally got to sing at Disneyland as a big blue snowflake. Here is a video of the experience where I yell “That’s me” to my kids.
Shared by: Orly Campbell
VC 6 was my second experience in Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir. I did VC5 before, so i was so excited to sing a full Eric Whitacre song with other people.
I really love Eric Whitacre’s songs. I first heard of them when I played FLY TO PARADISE for my marching band in our 2016 show. After playing CLOUDBURST for 2017, I decided to look into more songs. And man, the songs I heard truly made me feel the spirit.
I was in a Multi-Stake Choir before the pandemic and we were going to perform in April 2020. I was extremely excited for the performance because it was honestly the most advanced choir I’ve been in. We did a lot of warm ups and the director was really strict with the articulations, pitch, and how we pronounced words. But when the pandemic hit, I was very devastated when the performance was cancelled. When I heard that Eric Whitacre was making a 6th Virtual choir, I was thankful that I could still be part of a choir. It’s not the same, but it dis bring me a lot of joy.
I honestly love music, and I love making music even more! This Virtual Choir was a great experience, and I can’t wait to participate in more VCs!!!
Shared by: Adam Cruz
As a busy cardiologist and physician, choir singing has been a true Godsend that helps me unwind and provides me with that instant unconditional joy that never fails.
I’ve been singing since childhood and simply cannot imagine a life without song.
I have admired Maestro Whitacre’s Virtual choirs for years but my busy work schedule meant I missed signing up on every occasion. Whilst I love my community choir dearly there was always something special about a global choir that knew no borders.
Then came the pandemic and the inevitable pause in community choral singing came at a time when I felt I needed it the most. Joining VC6 not only was that dream I always had but hearing the piece for the first time transported me to heaven. I loved every minute from that first moment until the amazing premier followed by celebrating all the milestones.
Moreover, it was VC6 that opened innumerable opportunities to meet likeminded singers and join so many VCs that I’ve almost lost count. I now feel truly part of a global community that I call home x
Shared by: Lena Izzat
Sing Gently was my first virtual choir experience. I fell in love with the song while I was learning it, but when that video came out, my whole being was sucked in, it became my nightly prayer. In the dark just before bed with earbuds in, I would listen to it several times. It was the best ending to a stressful day.
I am still in awe of Eric’s perfect words and beautiful music for this very trying year. Thank you Eric!! I could say it was a ‘religious experience’ even though I’m not religious. I had no idea of the impact this song would have on me. ❤️
Shared by: Shirley Litton
I have always loved music. It’s has been my outlet when I go through heartbreaks, losses, triumphs, joy and sadness. Although I don’t have any musical background but I was able to be in youth choirs when I was younger but wasn’t able to sing since then. Music also made migrating to the US bearable as I experienced alot of homesickness in my first few years being here.
I saw Eric’s work when I subbing in a school and the music teacher introduced his virtual choir as part of her lesson. That night. I listened to all of his works and was fasnicated how individuals all over can sing as one and produce such masterpieces. I tried joining his other virtual choir but the timing wasn’t right until COVID happened. After years of not singing, I was able to do it again. I was not that confident but all those words of encouragement from our Facebook made all thw difference. Being part of a global success and having the thought that my voice reached and healed others through this time of darkness and hardship. Music indeed makes as all ONE WORLD, ONE HUMANITY. Thank you Eric for the gift of your music.
Shared by: Ida Black
I’ve sung in four of Eric’s Virtual Choirs, and all were amazing enjoyable experiences (including seeing my closeup face zoom across the screen in Water Night!). We’ve sung his pieces in the community choir I’m a member of, and I absolutely miss singing in a group, as I”m sure we all do.
Last summer, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “The Sacred Veil” has taken on a whole important meaning for me…my husband and I drove from home in Canada 8 hours down to Portland on March 1 this year, to see Eric at a PSU event, where they were performing three movements from that new piece. I met Eric briefly offstage for a quick hello, and let him know how much the Sacred Veil will mean to so, so many people.
His music is a true gift to the world, and I feel very fortunate to have been part of some of those gifts. I feel well, and strong, and hope to someday again stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends and sing aloud. May it be so for all of us.
Shared by: Karen Henderson
Starting to record my part for Sing Gently
Checking if I did everything right, and taking down all the set I put up to record everything
Realizing I didn’t put on a plain T-shirt
Shared by: Zana Zaganjori
Sing Gently was my second time joining Eric’s virtual choir. I have been singing in a choir since I was 10 years old and choral music is still my favourite. To be a part of these mass virtual choirs is such a blessing and definitely takes me out of my comfort zone. There is safety in numbers and singing with a choir is like singing with family. Thank-you for the opportunity to be part of this virtual choir and to be able to make such beautiful music together.
Shared by: Dianna Weltz
I had the privilege to sing in the chorus performing Paradise Lost Shadows and Wings with Eric at the Disney Concert Hall several years ago. An ethereal feeling came over me singing this piece. Meeting Eric was great. He is so real. He takes such delight in what he does and spreads that bliss to his performers and audience. It was a joy. A friend sent me a link to join his Virtual Choir 6 Sing Gently. I had never done such a type of performance. Since everyone was suppose to stay home due to the COVID pandemic, this seemed just the thing to take my mind off the horror of so many sick and dying people. It is such a beautiful piece and it gave me a sense of calm. Joining the choir and the Zoom rehearsals were great. Meeting people through the chat from all over the world was fun. Eric and his wife were fantastic as they answered all these questions from people. In the sea of music, I was just a small note who when joined with the other notes, created something bigger and more powerful than myself. His song was so meaningful during this chaotic time. I’m happy I’m on the mailing list now so I will be able to join the next Virtual Choir. I am honored to be part of this work and hope to work with Eric and his team again in the future. My heartfelt thanks to Eric and his team for making this happen and giving the world and me a sense of tranquility.
Shared by: Ellen Fiebert
I remember the first time I heard one of Eric’s pieces; it was Water Night, and I was about 12 years old. I was so fascinated by how much thought and emotion went into not only writing the piece, but also performing it. After going down an Eric Whitacre rabbit hole, I decided that I wanted to be in a choir. I joined my middle school chorus, and then eventually made it to my high school chamber choir. I had become infatuated by the world of choral music, and went from singing, to arranging and conducting. When I saw that there was going to be a VC 6, I was so excited because virtual choir was what made me pursue music in the first place. Getting to be part of this has been such an incredible experience, and Eric Whitacre has honestly been one of my biggest role models as a musician, but also just in life.
Shared by: Jake Zimmer
I was one of the singers in Virtual Choir 6, which was an incredible experience for me and a great introduction to Eric and his music. But I am writing today about “Child of Wonder” from The Sacred Veil. I know this song was written for Eric’s friends Julie and Tony, but it touched me very deeply on a different level.
My 10-month old grandson Clark died of cancer this past January. My wife and I were with Clark and his parents as he left this life. The words for “Child of Wonder” are so incredibly appropriate for what we experienced and the music embedded itself in my soul.
Thank you, Eric, for giving me that gift in the midst of my grief – and for all the amazing things you do with music to help our spirits to soar.
Shared by: Phil Haslanger
I found the YouTube video for Sleep during the early days of lockdown in the UK and, having recently performed it with my real life choir, I remember thinking how amazing it would’ve been to be a part of it. I proceeded to find and watch all the other videos and looked into how Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choirs started (because there wasn’t much else to do in lockdown). Soon after someone in a social media choir group shared that there was a VC6 taking place and that they were in the taking submissions stage, so I thought: “When else in life would I get the chance to sing an Eric Whitacre piece with him conducting?”! I watched a sessional with Laurence (I don’t even know if there were more, I just kept going back to the same one), and practiced until I felt ready to film. After many tries and with 2 kids to keep out of shot, I eventually submitted my least awful video (after many attempts, it seems I was still just as nervous about recording myself as I was at performing live), and just hoped it wasn’t so bad that the team would outright reject it. I think – even though I will probably never find my video amongst the other thousands on the screen – listening to all the voices together, and being able to find my name at the end was all still incredibly satisfying and moving. A wonderful experience.
Shared by: Amanda Field
I’d heard of the virtual choir years ago and thought it was very cool, but didn’t take the time to participate. When vc6 came up during covid, i decided it was time. Even though i have several decades of choral singing experience, i found the recording challenging! It took several takes..like 25 maybe? I had no intention of sharing my video on Facebook, but since so many others did, i took the plunge. The positive comments and likes came in so fast i was in tears! I found so much support on the Facebook group i was in awe! From advice on recording setups, to encouragement to share it was all wonderful. After i submitted, i kept checking on Facebook to see where i could give back to this community. Here we are, several months out, and we’re still connected! Everytime i watch the final product, i cry. What a powerful message we’re sending. Thank you to eric, and everyone involved for the opportunity to sing as one with over 17,000 people from 129 countries during a pandemic!
Shared by: Patricia Alercia
I had sung several pieces by Eric Whitacre with different choirs over the last ten years or so, but had never seen or participated in a virtual choir of his although I had heard of them. When lockdown became inevitable in the spring of 2020, I discovered the virtual choir project “Sing Gently”. I decided to join and was so heartened by the lovely supportive community and the gentle but talented leadership of Eric. I watched and listened to other virtual projects he had created over the last ten years and I realized that Eric was really in command of a new art form…he knew how to make something beautiful and to let the music communicate by bringing together people’s voices from all over the world into a common whole and purpose. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of that? Thank you for a perfect introduction to the possibilities of the virtual choir experience!
Shared by: Philomena Hughes
Choirs have brought healing to me more than once. The first was after a long time of depression and despair, I came out of my community choir rehearsal feeling human again.
This time, after watching the world tear itself apart, I joined VC6, the first of Eric Whitacre’s choirs I have been able to join. I didn’t know the imagery that was to be used (Kintsugi, repairing broken things with gold to make them even more beautiful) in the final video. Watching the islands of individuals coming together as one was a balm to the soul and brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful thing.
Shared by: Tiffany Schaefer
I have always loved to sing. When I heard about Eric Whitacre and virtual choirs, they had already completed 3 of them. I was privileged to be a part of Fly to Paradise, Deep Field, Sing Gently, and my daughter was in the Virtual Youth Choir. My usually shy and very quiet daughter would never sing in front of anyone but me. So this experience was easier for her than I thought it would be since I was the only other person in the room when she recorded. Because Eric was so kind and made it easy for her to participate she now wants to become a famous singer. I am so proud of her. It was so fun getting to know all the participants from around the world on the FB group. These are memories I will hold dear for the rest of my life. I hope and pray there are more to follow. Thank you Eric for your time, talent, and your expertise.
Shared by: Tammy Atchley
Singing has been my refuge. Singing is my stress relief. Singing is my therapy. I’ve been singing since I was in elementary school, but I’m most proud of to sing in an amazing vocal group, RSVP, since 2000. Every Monday night for 20 years, we have had rehearsal… and for those 2 hours, all my worries would slip away from my consciousness as we would begin to breathe and… sing as one.
Eric Whitacre’s pieces have been among my absolute favorites to sing. The crunchy chords, the moving lines, the poetry and meaning behind the words… A Boy and a Girl was on the “menu” for this past concert season — it’s a gorgeous piece of love and loss, youth and old age. We performed the piece years ago and it remains one of my favorites.
While on tour in 2008, to bring music and hope to those affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we sang the Five Hebrew Love Songs with stirring melodies with poems of love so beautiful and full of meaning. Over the years, we have performed other Whitacre pieces such as Sleep, always a treat to the ears and soul!
In March 2020, we canceled our 20th Anniversary celebratory concert due to the global pandemic, and like most people, we assumed we would simply take the season off and start up again in the fall. Little did we know…
Then in late spring, while trying to maintain some “normal” and keep singing in some capacity, I joined the VC6. I was intrigued by the simple words and loved the soprano line, not sure how it would all come together. How could tens of thousands of singers all sing in one piece? I submitted my recording, which was a feat in and of itself with a noisy, busy family, but somehow got it done in 6 takes. I waited and watched as the project continued to progress.
Listening to Eric speak on how he chose the words and kept the melody simple, I was so thrilled to be a part of something creative and current, watching it as it was unfolding. On the day of the release, we were driving home from Tahoe and I turned on the video for the family to see and hear. My eyes filled with tears as it began. I loved the visual of the faces and voices being woven together and I continued to cry silently through the entire piece. It was the first time I felt deeply connected to 17,000+ other people across the globe at one moment in time.
The project has been an absolute blessing to me and I was so happy to lend a tiny piece of myself to this work. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Little did we know in March that we would still not be rehearsing this fall and yet another concert season would be stripped from us. I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed in this production from conception to completion and all along the way.
Shared by: Monica Crumley
When I was a senior in high school, I met a really funny guy who just started in band. This freshmen turned out to be my best friend and we always talked. One huge topic was Eric Whitacre. We loved his music and always practiced conducting along with music. We left for winter break, but he never returned. We got the tragic news that he passed away from the flu. It shocked me to my core. He always told me to follow my dreams and to go become a band director. I decided to attend college and to pursue that dream. I went, but became very depressed. I wasn’t able to keep up with my financial dept, so I was forced to drop out right before entering my senior year. I went back home and did very odd jobs from being a caregiver to working at a car parts store and working in a car repair shop. I had been so depressed but continued playing small things on the side. I wanted a change in my life, so I applied to my school district and try to work with kids like I wanted. I got a job as a bilingual paraprofessional. I kept my streak going and I was able to get accepted into a band (my primary is Saxophone). I thought I had my big break! I was at the highest point I had been and then got hit with the pandemic. It completely destroyed my plans for the year, from almost getting fired due to budget cuts in our district, to not being able to attend concerts and having a band to go to. I was home alone and thinking how I was disappointing my friend because it was his birthday, but I got a notification that there was a new piece coming out and a new choir! I was so excited! I have been so lucky and this was my first musical experience since college (2017)! This has kick started my passion again and I am applying to colleges near me to finish my music degree and to be able to teach in the district that I currently am at. Thank you Eric Whitacre for your pieces, I have so many memories that go with the tunes and I can’t wait for the day that the pandemic goes away and I’m able to see you in person!
Shared by: Luisa Hernandez
I have been a musician all my life. I am a classical pianist and have always been a singer. After Working in a community college for nine years teaching pretty much everything under the sun including piano, lab piano, voice, voice class, music fundamentals, Aural skills , Music lit and directing a recorder ensemble, my job was downsized. Literally the same day, I got a call from an old colleague who teaches at the local high school looking for an accompanist. I raised my hand and for the last 6 years (until Covid) I have worked as a collaborative pianist for the middle and high school , played for competition and just this year gotten my masters in music ed voice. I even managed to finish my student teaching during lock down! All through this time we have played virtual choir performances for our students and I yearned to be one of the participants. So this year, with lock downs and no in person school, I took the plunge and submitted a recording for Sing Gently, probably my favorite so far of Mr. Witacre’s pieces. It touched my heart and filled a cold space during this trying time and warmed my spirit. Now I can look at my certificate and fondly say that I did it! Thank you for making this possible…..I am sure there were better trained voices on the recording, but my hope is that I contributed something to the overall sound and community!
Shared by: Charlotte PIerce
A few years back our daughter (Carol, a freelance trombonist) introduced me to Eric Whitacre’s music and I loved it. When I realised he was launching Virtual Choir 6, I wanted to join. I have sung since I was tiny, not got a wonderful voice but I love doing so, I’m now much much older, and my regular choir (Open University Choir in Milton Keynes, UK) had to stop rehearsing and performing due to the virus. So to get my singing ‘fix’ I plucked up courage and joined and am so happy I did! The resultant film is stunning and I’m so proud to have been a teeny tiny part of it.
Shared by: Helen Jarvis
Singing was my first love. Singing in a choir is like an old friend I only get to see every once in a while, but it’s like we were never apart – the spark is never extinguished. Thank you, Mr Whitacre, for arranging the opportunity for me to do it all again, with your virtual choir.
Shared by: Ysaura Magnusson
There was this angel, the night before a Carnegie Hall performance, 2012 (Julie Souin)
Shared by: Maria Petrova
I first heard Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir singing “Fly” many years after it was first performed whilst browsing on YouTube and I was totally blown away!
I then found more of his virtual works and TED lectures and wanted more!
It took me a long time to find out how to get in touch, but finally this year I made it and am proud to be a member of VC6 singing and recording the sweet and amazing “Sing Gently” – such a balm for the dis-ease caused by this Covid-19 pandemic
The many rehearsals and webinars made it so pleasurable and gave me, a virtual choir novice, the confidence to record and submit – it wasn’t much good, but I submitted it anyway
I can honestly say I have loved every minute being in this virtual choir family
Thank you so much for the opportunity to sing with you, Eric et al
Shared by: Rosemary Shackleton
My daughter talked me in to participating after she had done. Best thing I could have ever done. My closest friends now are those I have met through VC friends and I think of them as family now. This has been the very best part of my life as far as being able to be a part of something so big and so meaningful. I’m truly honored to be a part of multiple works of art now that you have created Eric and hope to be in the future as well. From the bottom of my heart – thank you <3
Shared by: Deb Herbert
A few years ago, I was introduced to Eric Whitacre’s amazing work and instantly wanted to take part in a virtual choir as well as improve my conducting with Eric being an inspiration.
During high school, I vividly remember listening to Water Night at least 100 times a day because of its mysterious yet, angelic sound. When I am in love with a piece, I will instantly bring it home and conduct it to feel somewhat apart of his virtual choirs (lol).
Hearing the announcement that VC6 was happening, I did not hesitate to create my account and learn the music as soon as it was released!! A bit embarrassed to say that I learned the music within a day because I was so darn excited!!
VC6 has allowed me to continue singing through this pandemic and has allowed me to meet a huge amount of folks around the world with building friendships. It was truly a blessing and I am forever thankful to have somewhat “worked” with a man who has inspired me to better myself as a musician.
Once the production released, I decided to do a virtual choir of my own with a few talented folks from my University choir. It’s nothing compared to Eric Whitacre’s virtual choirs but it’s amazing to see the positive impact he has had on THOUSANDS of us around the globe! This is very cheesy to say, but I would not be the amazing young musician/conductor I am today if I wasn’t introduced to his work.
Congratulations to Eric Whitacre and his wonderful team on this wonderful milestone. All of your hard work and dedication is noted and gravely appreciate by many.
Shared by: Makiah Robinson
I haven’t been part of many virtual choirs but this was my first ever one, sing gently… I’m 14 and love to sing, when covid threw a curve ball I decided what better way then to step out of my comfort zone… I had such a fun time and I met many people, no matter your age go out and push your limits you’ll have fun I guarantee it!!!!
Shared by: Reyna Wick
I have been aware of Eric Whitacre’s virtual choirs for a number of years, but until this year, had never participated. This is partly due to lack of confidence – I couldn’t fathom singing and recording myself and sending it off, even though the interest was there. In the last few years, my confidence in singing has grown. I am the assistant musical director of a choir, in which I sing alto and can also cover the sopranos if needed. I have become much more accustomed to recording myself, in part because of a need to create musical theatre demos.
When the pandemic happened and my choir stopped rehearsing in person, I was devastated. Choir is one of the most important activities of my week. It makes me feel fulfilled and accomplished and a worthwhile human being. The idea of not singing with my friends (except over Zoom on mute) was deeply upsetting, especially since everything else in my life was cancelled too. I felt as if I was left with nothing but empty days ahead.
During this time, I actually started my own virtual choir project with my choir, which I’m pleased to say went very well. But when I heard of Eric Whitacre’s VC6, I knew the time had come to finally join in. Instead of watching from the sidelines, I decided to record and upload my video and take part. It is one of the greatest things I did during the pandemic.
The final video was incredible. I could barely believe I sang with 17,000+ people, many in the same boat as me. The void left by being separated from everyone felt a little more filled. This was not the end of singing. We could still sing together. And since my original virtual choir project, I have done three more, with another one still to go. In spite of everything, the music has continued.
Thank you, Eric Whitacre, for continuing to spread both music and love in the world. You have made my life better.
Shared by: Lucy Gossip
In 2011, after submitting my very first video for VC 2.0, (Sleep), my girlfriend and I arranged the very first real life virtual choir reunion in Kansas City in July with REAL singers from the video. Tony Silvestri was the guest of honor, I think we had a total of nine people attend, some were people who had heard about the virtual choir but did not participate. Again, I arranged another VC reunion when Eric directed the Apollo Chorus in Chicago. I remember sometime during my involvement having several people interview me for a publication about singing and one guy in China or Japan used my virtual choir experience in his final thesis before graduating.
What has struck me the most about all of this is the genuineness, warmth and the generosity of everyone involved in virtual choir, especially Eric Whitacre. In Columbus, Ohio, after a Soaring Leap workshop, Eric and I met on the stage afterward, and I had returned to my seat in the auditorium to get Eric’s gift which I had left there when Eric personally made a shoutout to me when I stood up to announce a plan for a get-together afterward for anyone interested. Despite a line of college kids, staff, other singers and an increasing demand for autographs and selfies, Eric was kneeling down at the front of the stage, patiently waiting for me to return with my personal gift for him. And that’s exactly the type of person Eric is, genuine, generous and human.
It has been a deep honor to have been invited and included in the virtual choirs where I have participated. Thank you, Eric, and Anyone involved in the Virtual Choir productions in the last 10 years. You have made all 35,000 of us singers proud! And of course, to Jack Rowland for EVERYTHING.
Shared by: Darrell Polka
Shared by: Kandice Pritchard-Harmon
In mid-March, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel our rehearsal, in what we thought was an abundance of caution, for Coro-Dante, an Italian-repertoire choir in Cambridge, MA that I am president of. That same Monday night that we would have rehearsed, a now famous choir in Washington State went ahead with rehearsal, and many of them got Covid, with 2 resulting deaths. We were so thankful to have made the right if painful choice! After that, I knew singing together would not be possible for a long time. Shortly afterward, I became aware of VC6 and decided to try it. I have sung in choruses my entire life and while I knew about Eric Whitacre, had never sung his music and thought that the virtual choirs were a kind of cool gimmick. I soon learned that it was the most perfect, healing gift ever given to singers during the pandemic! When Eric spoke of how seeing people with masks eyeing each other in the street and fearing to get close had inspired him, it melted my heart as I had been feeling the same way. Sing Gently was medicine. The beautiful melody, harmonies and most of all, the way Eric has of making each person feel valued and welcome, helped me (and SO many others) get through a difficult time. It is by far the silver lining to this very dark cloud. Since then, I have joined other online choirs (Stay at Home Choir and Self Isolation Choir) and am delighted to continue working on wonderful music and collaborating with great composers and artists. VC6 will always hold a special place in my heart. It astonishes me how very much people care, how hard they work on their submissions with multiple takes and all the comical things that happen, and while at first it is hard to record yourself and hear your own voice, after time it helps you to hone your technique and improve. I am also blown away at how supportive the VC6 community has been, and love seeing people make connections all over the world. The tone comes from the top, as they say, and Eric has set the standard for kindness and empathy. While there is no substitute for being in a room with others making harmony, this is a new and larger kind of harmony. I still cannot watch the video of Sing Gently without tears. Thank you.
Shared by: Lisa Micali
I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 2 years ago. After surgery to remove my thyroid I found it very difficult to speak anything above a whisper. The lump on my thyroid effected my singing voice for years prior to my diagnosis.
I hadn’t sung for nearly 10 years…partly out of fear of having lost my voice. ‘Sing Gently’, called to me. I could speak softly, and missed singing with my choir. I faced my fears head on and did my best. It was so nice to sing with a group again, and I am honoured to have been a part of this wonderful experience. I may not be the best singer out there, but I loved being able to use my voice again, gently, and with strength.
Thank you so very much, Eric, for creating a beautiful experience we can all share with the world. Hats off to everyone involved in all aspects of these immense projects!
Shared by: Jenn Truax
I have sung in choirs since I was five years old. My initial singing venture was singing the Requiem Mass in Latin at funeral masses. I was hooked from the beginning. For me, it was sacred show biz. A friend send me the VC 3 video and I was intrigued by the technical process and the utter beauty of Water Night. So I eagerly signed up for VC4 and sang in Fly to Paradise. Singing alone was a challenge for me, daunting at times. And painful for me to listen to my voice, unshielded by other choir members. I felt naked, exposed. But I continued until the deadline hour and encountered a problem uploading my video because the file was too large. Jack Rowland came to my rescue and provided the advice I needed to make the deadline and I am forever grateful for his encouragement. Armed with more technical skills, I enthusiastically participated in Glow, the Disney Honor Choir, and VC 5. Recording Glow in Barbados was a nightmare. After probably 30 takes I thought I had the final product only to be interrupted by a chorus of tree frogs that would begin their nightly song at dusk. But I tried again, knowing that the effort would ultimately be worth it. And it was.
The announcement of VC 6 came at a time of isolation and the resulting disconnectedness most of us were experiencing. It was a lifeline for me and so many others who longed to make music together, even virtually. While singing virtually is not the same experience as raising our voices together in the same room and feeding off the energy of fellow singers, it is nonetheless a magical experience because we understand that we are part of a process that will result in a unified and inspirational end result.
I have sung with Eric in real life in New York City and have made lifelong friends with the other participants I met in person. But I also have friends in the VC family whom I have never met except through the facebook groups. And I cherish their friendship as much as those that have been cemented by in person encounters. I am confident that I could travel anywhere in the world and arrange for a VC meetup with those singers. The gift of this community is unique and something I will always hold close to my heart. Grateful for the connections and proud to have participated in these endeavors.
Shared by: Judith Miles
In those days, when the Sing Gently project was running, I was convinced of I would not sing again for a long time. We were in the peak of the COVID 19 infections curve and the worst predictions rule everywhere. So, this chance came like the rain in the forest; it was a great opportunity to be “on the road” again.
I have a lot of experience singing in choirs across several European countries, as well as in recording, but I never had known someone so professional, so stimulating and so near as Eric and, of course, all the project crew. It was like there was not an screen and a half world between us, it was like we’re both in the same room. Magical. And what can I say about the feeling of being not alone? It was wonderful to find out that doesn’t matter where we born or live; we share the same feelings regarding the music. We were singing as one. Thanks, a lot, Eric, for let me be part of this.
Shared by: Monti Canle
I have taken part in every virtual choir. I feel that there is a wonderful community spirit to Eric choirs. VC6 is my personal favourite. Thank you Eric for allowing people all over the world to be part of something special and perform your beautiful compositions.
Shared by: Nick Fletcher
I’m guessing it’s early 2011 and I’m lying in bed listening to the radio. A softly spoken American is talking about a virtual choir, how it’s worked once and how he wants to make it world wide. ‘That sounds mad – I’m in’ I thought and had such fun solving the technical challenges of recording for ‘Sleep’ that I forgave myself the rusty vocals.
2020 has been an odd year for us all and like many others I felt lost. Again – that softly spoken American popped up on my radio to call me to connect and be a part of something just when I needed it most.
Shared by: Sally Morgan
Throughout the choirs, there were many times I didnt think I’d ever get a good recording. My VC experiences include making a final recording at 4am while secretly nursing my fussy baby just under the cameras view, recording in a bathroom because it was the quietest place in the house, and recording at work because by that time there were no quiet places in my house. I had to stop because airplanes flew over, trains rolled by and alarms went off. But I never stopped because I loved the music, loved knowing even in my struggles of making a “perfect recording” all by myself, I wasn’t alone. I had thousands of other singers with me. And somehow, we all came together to make this beautiful music. When they were released I sat with my family, tears in my eyes knowing I was part of something so special. I am so proud and grateful.
Shared by: Leah Thompson
When I retired from 50 years in China’s relations with the US, I joined the Sounds of Aloha men’s 4-part harmony chorus in Honolulu, Hawaii. After five years of singing the American songbook and a bunch of Hawaiian songs (Hawaiian Santa, Beyond the Reef, Waikiki, etc.) my life has been derailed by Covid 19. We can no longer practice or perform. We’ve done a couple of good videos including one for Memorial Day ceremonies at the Punchbowl Crater National Cemetery but I yearn to sing more. I was thrilled to find out about the Virtual Choir and I’m hoping Mr. Whitacre might allow me to try out for one of his next songs. Thank you.
Shared by: Jay Henderson
Of all the stories I have after ten years of virtual choirs, here is one that I rarely get to tell:
When the virtual choirs are finally released, the world sees the polished, finished product. Everything — as Radiohead might say — is in its right place. But don’t forget, behind the scenes I get to see every single video in its raw form. From the moment each singer hits record to the moment they hit the off button, I have the unique privilege of seeing it all.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of very human moments: people putting on their make up, fixing their hair, getting comfy in their seats. I can see people preparing the microphone, fussing with the sheet music, everything it takes to prepare oneself before the music begins.
Throughout the beginning of each video, people are wearing their daily ‘mask’. They are subconsciously aware that the camera is watching them, and because of that, there is a certain amount of ‘guard’ that is up. Even though it is virtual, they know they are in a social situation and so they act accordingly.
The moment, and I mean the MOMENT each singer takes their first breath in to sing that first note, however, the mask drops completely away. The act of singing seems to release people from the bonds of social expectation and they are suddenly just themselves, pure and simple and innocent. Watching that transformation on the faces of thousands of VC singers has been one of the great joys of my artistic life.