Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On being a member of "Sleep" Virtual Choir 2.0

What it was like being a part of this record-breaking event

The music was more difficult than I'd attempted before, requiring control and dynamic flexibility that stretched me. I didn't have a teacher to help, but I found excellent support from the sheet music and Eric Whitacre's tutorial and conductor videos. I also studied other uploads to see if I was on track.

I loved working with a skilled conductor. Eric knows what he wants and leads with clarity. He also has a talent for connecting with his choir.  You see, the experience didn't stop once I'd uploaded the video of my vocal part.

With an earplug in one ear to hear the keyboard chords, I let Eric guide me through the choral labyrinth.

One bare voice goes public, trusting that this one strange part will be transformed by togetherness into captivating aural beauty. What a long 3 months of waiting it was until the New York Premiere on 7 April 2011!

My favourite testimony. There are many amazing stories, but I really connected with the isolation this lady describes.

Through social media, I've been able to converse with a music professional who generously allows me access to his knowledge and his friends. I've been able to ask for advice and share in online music experiences with others.

From my isolated, lonely place on the planet, I've become part of a universal, ongoing musical event. My health might limit my physical journey, but broadband internet has opened the world to me. I'm amazed and blessed to be given this opportunity.

Melody Myers, soloist in Virtual Choir 1.0, through whose YouTube channel I discovered Eric Whitacre's music and signed myself into the info loop.

Virtual Choir 1.0 -- the astonishingly beautiful "Lux Aurumque" (Light and Gold) that introduced Virtual Choir to the world. With 2 million hits and counting, you can view it here:
Filming my part was not a simple affair.
Camera and tripod perched on filing cabinet. Netbook connected to YouTube conductor track perched on hatbox on bookshelf. Blanket backdrop pinned over closet doors. Desk chair supporting spineless sound proofing. Stool and cushion for positioning artist. Lamp for cooking artist.
Helpful sound engineers advised me (by email) to use mattresses to absorb bounced sound. This was the best setup I could figure out in my small room. The mattress, borrowed from a neighbour, was so floppy that it soon folded over on itself, despite wavery support from the chair. I was relieved to discard it. Without the chair blocking the doorway (which had to be shut when recording, but open between takes on this sweltering summer's day), the task became slightly less complicated.

If you're wondering why I had my netbook perched in this unlikely position, it was because I wanted to keep my chin up while looking at the conductor. One thing I hadn't figured out was how helpful a video camera's flip screen can be, so all frame checks had to be done by climbing behind the mattress and leaning around the tripod without bumping the camera. Ah well, we live and learn.

SUCCESS: Listening to the playback from the camera, elated that I'd achieved my goal before the deadline. Excitement and cosmetics cover a multitude of weariness.

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