The Virtual Choir was conceived in 2009 when a YouTube user uploaded a video of herself singing Whitacre’s 2001 work, Sleep, prompting the Grammy-winning American composer to ask more and more users to do likewise. After then recording himself conducting his 2000 piece, Lux Aurumque, and asking his fans to sing along to the video, the first Virtual Choir of 185 members was created.
Since then, the Virtual Choir has amassed more than fifteen million views, with VC4 comprising some 8,400 singers from 101 countries. The videos have featured on global television including BBC and ABC, have been used as art installations at landmarks such as London’s Millennium Bridge, and have featured at high-profile events for organisations such as Google, UNICEF, and the United Nations.
Space and discovery
With Virtual Choir 5, the event takes the theme of space and discovery, forming part of a performance of Whitacre’s 2015 work, Deep Field, with new parts added especially for VC5. Inspired by the Deep Field images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, which VC5’s website describes as ‘a tale of human aspiration, endeavour, wonder and extraordinary scientific vision’, a ‘Deep Field’ film will be produced in collaboration with a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute, the operations centre for the Hubble Space Telescope.
The VC5 website says, ‘we want to make this Virtual Choir as accessible as possible so singers do not have to read music to participate’. Video tutorials are available and participants can submit performances from their mobile device. Experienced singers will be on hand to assist participants throughout the process; every submission will be included in the performance. 6,000 people from over 90 countries had signed up to VC5 within a day of registration opening.
The submssion process is split into two levels based on participants’ abilities. Level 1 is for all abilities, Level 2 for more confident singers.
VC5 is also billed as ‘a celebration of STEAM education’ – science, technology, engineering, art and design, and mathematics.
There are 18 ‘badges’ hidden within the website, awarded for completing various STEAM-based challenges with themes such as ‘Music and Architecture’ and ‘Translating the Language of Telescopes into Images’. Those who win all eighteen are entered for a prize draw, whose ten winners are announced within a week of the closing date of VC5, and prizes include Space Passes for four people at Kennedy Space Center, a signed copy of Whitacre’s double A-side vinyl i carry your heart / Hurt and four tickets to Whitacre’s 28 April 2019 concert at Carnegie Hall.
Virtual Choir 4: Fly to Paradise
The deadline for submissions is 11:59 PT on June 27 2018.
Header image: Virtual Choir 3: Water Night