Virtual Choir: “These individuals alone, together.”


Eric Whitacre‘s wonderful Virtual Choir project is continuing to grow and expand. The submissions for Virtual Choir 3, Water Night, just closed on February 2nd. In total, 2945 people from 73 countries submitted videos to participate in the world’s largest virtual choir.

So, what is a virtual choir? It’s a choir made up of people all over the world, many of whom have never met another choir member outside of the virtual world. But yet, they still sing together. Race, color and creed don’t enter into it at all. They are simply part of the human family singing beautiful music together, whether they are from the humid tropics of Singapore or in the isolated, frozen back-country of Alaska.

As Eric explained in his TED 2011 talk, this all began with a simple video posted to YouTube by Britlin Lucy. After a short message to Eric, Britlin sang one of his pieces, Sleep. As she put it in the video’s description:

I was REALLY nervous!!! but hopefully he will see this video and see how thankful I am for him… he is the one who inspired me to compose!!!

This simple, heart-felt video has changed the lives of thousands. The video inspired Eric to create the virtual choir by putting out requests for singers to add their voice to the choir by singing along with a “conducting’ video he provided. Their first song: Lux Aurumque. Eric had hoped for 100 people to participate, but when the final count came in, there were 185 people from 12 different countries. Merging their videos together created the world’s first world-wide virtual choir.

Somehow, people had connected together, never having met one another, to create something beautiful. And in truth, they had connected with one another in amazing ways. As Eric said:

…these souls all on their own desert islands sort of sending electronic messages in bottles to one another.

The virtual choir became an internet sensation. At the time of this post, the YouTube video had nearly reached 3 million views. This led many other singers to want to participate in such an expansive human experience. Eventually, Virtual Choir 2.0 was announced. For this performance, the song sung by Britlin, Sleep, was chosen. This time, 1752 individuals from 58 countries participated.

After a short section premiered at TED 2011, the full choir piece was uploaded to YouTube on April 6, 2011. Eric still continued to be amazed at how this affected people’s lives:

Human beings will go to any length necessary to find and connect with each other.

So, for those of us who haven’t had the amazing experience of participating in the Virtual Choir, we now eagerly await the choir’s next piece and wonder at how small the world has become and how it allows such wonderful human endeavors to occur. It didn’t matter where people are located. They could still participate, as related by one singer:

When I told my husband that I was going to be part of this, he told me that I did not have the voice for it. It hurt so much, and I shed some tears, but something inside of me wanted to do this despite his words. It is a dream come true to be a part of this choir, as I have never been a part of one. When I placed a marker on the Google Earth Map, I had to go with the nearest city which is about 400 miles away from where I live. As I am in the Great Alaskan Bush, satellite is my connection to the world.

So, now we are all connected with her.