Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3.0, “Water Night,” streamed live last night online from Lincoln Center. My aging, temperamental laptop and equally frustrating internet connection miraculously made peace with each other, allowing me to watch all 3700+ of us, with a celebratory glass of wine in my hand. The video is now here.
My post, “Virtually Awesome,” talked a bit about how I found Virtual Choir 2.0, “Sleep.” That video was a tiny virtual shrub poking from the side of the sheer mountain face of despair I was then falling down, and I held onto that shrub fiercely while I found a toehold. I regretted publishing “Virtually Awesome” so quickly after recording my tenor part for “Water Night,” though, because my writing focus wasn’t right. The focus shouldn’t have been me, it should have been Eric Whitacre and those people from all over the world who gave themselves into that gentle, calming, reassuring gift of “Sleep.”
After last night’s “Water Night” premiere, Lincoln Center hosted a three-person discussion among composer John Corigliano, “Water Night” composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, and Chris Anderson, conference curator from TED. These three talented and insightful individuals clearly realized that the Virtual Choirs were ground-breaking and universe-denting, and they seemed just as awed and humbled by them as the participants themselves have been. Notes I scribbled while watching them include, “The singers cared about one thing, and they cared together; there was a profound oneness; the singers are a part of a larger family; no singer was left behind; music changes how we respond to things — it opens us up; the singers are part of something bigger than themselves, which is a key to happiness.”
I’ll probably never find my little square among all those other videos comprising the whole “Water Night,” (though, based on a static group photo, I am 4th row from the bottom and 27 places from the left edge), but that’s okay. I know I’m there and care about that one bigger thing, and I’m surrounded by literally thousands of virtual singing family members who also care about that one bigger thing that took on a life of its own, and who support and improve my performance a thousandfold. I took part in this because of them, not because I wanted visual recognition, or to stand out from everyone else. I wanted to inhale the breath of our community, and release it into the same magical sound with my family from Brazil, El Salvador, Namibia, Hungary. Our breath, our determination, our triumph, are now a part of this universe, as the rising moon in “Water Night” watches over all of us.