Virtual Choir 4.0 Announced

Last week, Grammy-winning composer/conductor Eric Whitacre announced the next Virtual Choir Project: "Bliss". This piece is from his 2010 West End musical entitled Paradise Lost. It is quite the departure from previous virtual choir projects. An exciting one. Some choristers may grumble, but I personally think that this will introduce a new group of singers to the beauty of choral music. "Bliss" is a fusion of classical, techno and something else that I'm still trying to put my finger one. Another difference between VC4 and previous projects is the need for a Kickstarter campaign. As Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir continues to grow, so do the expenses. VC3: Water Night cost over $100,000 to create. Hence, the Kickstarter campaign. Since it's launch last weekend, the VC4 kickstarter project has raised over $18,000. Not too shabby. Without further ado, here's Eric Whitacre on the VC4 project: In light of the tragedies from last week, any opportunity to come together as a global community in the name of peace, is a welcome one.

Calgarian Johnny Summers Snags Best Film Score Nomination at AFTA

Calgary-based musician, Johnny Summers has been nominated for an award at the upcoming 2012 Annual Alberta Film & Television Awards.
Nominated for the Best Original Musical Score: Drama Award for the featured length film, Burlesque Assassins, slated to be released this spring. The award show, which will take place on May 12, celebrates excellence in Alberta film, television and new media.


“Burlesque Assassins was an exciting project to work on,” said Summers. “There were so many skilled people working on this film. It was an honour to have worked alongside them especially since it was my first score written for a full-length featured film. I can’t wait for movie to be released this spring.”


Burlesque Assassins is a WWII drama by Canadian writer/director Jonathan Joffe. It is his first feature length film.


Summers is a professional trumpeter, vocalist, composer and arranger. He performs with various ensembles such as the Johnny Summers Little Big Band and his quartet. He has been the director of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra and written half of music for the ensemble for the past eight years, and leads his own solo music career, performing across Canada. He is an active recording artist, who most recently recorded with children’s music icon, Raffi.


Summers is also a professional race car driver.

The Big Reveal of Virtual Choir 3.0's Water Night

Yesterday was truly a magical day. After going through a rough morning (Murphy's Law prevailed), I was looking forward to seeing the cheerful faces of my students and the "premiere" of Virtual Choir 3.0. Both were the balm that I needed.


My students had heard about me struggling with my submission for Virtual Choir 3.0 (those pesky trouble spots). How apropos that I watched the premiere with two of my music students via Lincoln Center's live stream.


From the moment that lone water drop touched down and we sang our opening chord, the hairs on my arms stood up and my arms tingled. My students and I were just speechless for several minutes:

Our "performance" of "Water Night" by Grammy-winning composer Eric Whitacre, is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Spiritually, it's a balm and a booster. Truly magical. 

It's a powerful reminder of the power of music, of how art builds community and breaks barriers. A total of 3,746 videos from 2,945 people (singing one or more parts) in 73 countries were submitted.Now pundits can complain about how the cut-offs aren't exact and those "esses" drag on forever, or that we were blended together artificially. To them, I say that the virtual environment is never meant to replace the live environment. Just augment it.

I already sing in my church choir (and play piano AND cajón). I do a bit of collaborating with other musicians. Virtual Choir gives me a new world to explore. Technology to master. "Rehearsals" and "performances" that don't require me to give up teaching time. New repertoire to challenge myself with. New friends.

The singing part of Virtual Choir is only a fraction of the entire experience. I blogged about my Virtual Choir preparation and recording experience here. The real magic of Virtual Choir is "virtual choir makes real connections".

Some Virtual Choir members have been inspired by their experience to join a choir in their neighbourhood. I know of a couple who have signed up for singing lessons as a result of their Virtual Choir experience.

People from my generation may remember having international pen-pals as a child. Now, I have a whole army of pen-pals. With a VC member in numerous timezones, there is always someone available when I am.

We're exchanging gifts, planning visits and so on. I know of one couple who have come together through Virtual Choir.

We celebrate the joys, such as a job interview, a new composition or relationship. We support each other through the rough patches, such as surgery, relationship break-ups and cancer.

I was chatting with some of my choir buddies from the Virtual Choir Army last night and after celebrating the culmination of our hard work with "Water Night", we looked towards the future. Immediately on the horizon is our next multi-track project (singing Morten Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium"). We dreamed about future real-life reunions and Virtual Choir 4.0. We are riding the wave of community and artistry created by Virtual Choir and seeing where it (and technology) will take us next.

So when we see that video, we see the breakdown of barriers. People in isolation coming together. People from countries who aren't on amicable terms singing "beside" each other. We see the we see the growth of those connections. We hear the magic created by people who may never meet, in communion with one another, drawn together to bring the haunting strains of "Water Night" to life.

Bravo Eric! Bravo VC Team! Bravo to all of you, my fellow choristers in Virtual Choir. We've made something truly special here.

Click on image below to check out Eric Whitacre's newest CD, Water Night: