Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir With 17,572 Singers Is Epic Undertaking

The coronavirus has silenced choirs everywhere. 

So, Sunday’s debut of what’s perhaps the world’s biggest choir ever is a bit of a salve, even though no one is really singing with anyone in-person. Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6 is a mega-version of the now common virtual music ensemble production, except Whitacre has been producing them for a decade, well before the pandemic.

This time, he included videos from 17,572 people around the world, singing in tempo to Whiteacre conducting his own three-minute work, “Sing Gently.” 

The Los Angeles composer is a household name among choral groups globally. His first virtual choir  was such a hit a decade ago that he’s continued creating them as they've grown in numbers. They now require the help of a large team of people to review each videotape submission and Very. Carefully. Piece. Them. All. Together.

It’s a daunting task, but Whitacre has honed how to take it to scale.

The result is a stunning, yet safe, socially-distanced presentation of an enormous mass of singers. The imagery of thousands of people slowly coming together conjures a reuniting of the earth’s continental crust, chilling with Whitacre’s tender and uplifting music.

Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6 doesn’t replace the powerful connection felt when making music together in one space, but he told NPR’s Jeff Lunden, "Ultimately, I think that singing is so popular and feels like a thing that we must do, because we feel part of something larger than ourselves."

Hear more choral music on “Sing”, CPR Classical's choral music program you can hear every Sunday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. hosted by David Ginder. You can listen to CPR Classical by clicking "Listen Live" on this website. You can also hear CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, at radio signals around Colorado, or ask your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical.”