90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Eric Whitacre On The Ecstasy of Conducting a Choir

Eric Whitacre is pictured at Abbey Road’s Studio One in March 2011, recording the choral parts for Pirates of the Caribbean IV. (ericwhitacre.com)

Eric Whitacre is pictured at Abbey Road’s Studio One in March 2011, recording the choral parts for Pirates of the Caribbean IV. (ericwhitacre.com)

Composer Eric Whitacre has created huge virtual choirs in cyberspace – thousands of singers uploading performances to be mixed together into one performance.

He just completed a Kickstarter campaign to fund Virtual Choir 4, which is scheduled to premiere at a concert in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation anniversary in July.

Eric Whitacre conducting at a Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) event. (ericwhitacre.com)

Eric Whitacre conducting at a Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) event. (ericwhitacre.com)

But Whitacre also performs with his own ensemble, the Eric Whitacre Singers. They appear on the Grammy-winning album “Light & Gold,” as well as their latest album “Water Night,” and they will be on a short East Coast tour this week.

Whitacre told Here & Now’s Robin Young that there is nothing like conducting a live choir.

“It’s the most incredible feeling. First, it all begins with the breath. I raise my hands and we all breathe at the same time. That moment for me is always the most electric. And then as soon as the sound comes out, the singers, they sing with such purity that the sound, it’s got a shimmer to it, a spin. I always feel like I’m surfing in it. It’s an ecstatic experience,” he said.

Guest:


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://allanwhite.tumblr.com/ Allan White

    I’m not sure why, but I found this segment profoundly moving. I grew up singing in church – and still do today – and our fellowship is a capella (without instruments). There is something very powerful about singing together as a group, especially when the content itself is spiritually profound. 

    There’s also this sense of legacy and tradition that singing evokes in me. When I sing with my kids either at home or in church or on the road, I feel a sense of connection to all my family’s ancestors who partook in this simple yet meaningful activity. It made me think of my father who still sings in a barbershop choir today. Perhaps in this hi-tech world, this ancient thing feels real.

  • http://www.findingtimothy.org/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=1 MEMCI

    How rich were his words about the sound of the human voice in group singing. I understood and connected deeply with his words inspiring his Allelulia piece.  Such music nurtures my spirit and does such creative powers. Thank you Here and Now for giving time to Eric Whitacre!

  • Millard4

    A long time ago I was a brand new college graduate and found myself teaching music ed. at the high school and elementary school levels.  My greatest joy was to work with the co-ed choirs.  How I wish I’d had an Eric Whitacre back then as a teacher and role model.  His music is so moving and beautiful, and watching and listening to a virtual choir is absolutely amazing.  Thank you, Eric, for such beauty.  

  • Marjorie

    Wonderful. Thank you.  Where can we hear the rest of his wife’s, “Good Night Moon”?

    • Rachel Rohr, Here & Now

      Hi Marjorie, Check out the link just above the video – that will take you to the full version. Thanks for listening!

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

August 18 33 Comments

More Americans Are Flocking To The South

A New York Times interpretation of census data finds the South is seeing significant in-migration for the first time.

August 18 10 Comments

As Pot Laws Relax, Restrictions On Research Still Tight

The firing of a University of Arizona doctor highlights the complexity and politics of marijuana research.

August 15 8 Comments

Facing Backlash, SeaWorld Expands Killer Whale Habitats

SeaWorld has faced criticism over its treatment of captive killer whales since the release of the documentary, "Blackfish."

August 15 9 Comments

Training Police To Put Aside Their Biases

Criminologist Lorie Fridell says police officers can and should be trained to recognize their own internal biases.