Virtual Choir 6: “Sing Gently,” an original composition from Eric Whitacre, will make its global premiere on Sunday, July 19, at 10:30 a.m. PDT on YouTube. Whitacre, one of the world’s most performed composers, was inspired to write the piece by the breadth of the pandemic and its effect on society. Turning to music as solace, “Sing Gently” welcomed 17,572 singers from 129 countries, aged 5–88, who recorded their videos to be combined to form Virtual Choir 6. Together, they found strength in the simple, collective initiative of the project and saw it as a way to not only replenish from within but also to offer hope and relief for the sadness and suffering of others.
“With everyone unexpectedly far apart from each other, I found myself thinking about the virtues of empathy, community, and service, and a new Virtual Choir felt like a deeply human way to address all of those virtues,” said Whitacre. “I tried as best I could to keep the lyrics of ‘Sing Gently’ straightforward and unadorned to say what I felt needed to be said simply.”
“Sing Gently” marks Whitacre’s largest Virtual Choir to date since his first more than ten years ago. The film will include videos from each of the participants, unified in a unique collection, which serves as a testament to diversity, accessibility, and inclusivity to be much more than a musical project, it’s a community.
One participant identified as Leanne from Hamilton, New Zealand, shared, “At a time when the whole world felt like it was tilting I was given a chance to participate in the Virtual Choir 6 and what an incredibly beautiful experience it was. Here I was in New Zealand, a world away from so many others who sang, but we became one voice, united in our passion to touch hearts and share the gift of music.”
“[Virtual Choir 6] inspired a doctor and chorister who has been ‘grieving’ for what has happened to the world and missing friends and family tremendously…It has allowed us to make friends and contacts with like-minded and beautiful singers across the globe,” affirmed Dr. Lena Izzat from the UK.
“Sing Gently” was written in April 2020 for choir (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) and piano. The piano track was recorded by Sam Glicklich, a student at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, while each of the 17,527 participants sang, recorded, and submitted their videos for inclusion. Rising to the technical and creative challenge of combining 17,000+ audio and video files is the Tony & Olivier award-winning 59 Productions (filmmakers) and BAFTA-winning, Floating Earth (audio engineers). The copyright is administered by Boosey and Hawkes, and the sheet music will be available from Hal Leonard later in 2020.
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