Composer and conductor Eric Whitacre has brought together thousands of people from around the world to sing in his choir — without ever having to meet any of them in person.
Whitacre premieres his third version of Virtual Choir tonight on April 2. The project takes thousands of videos contributed by singers in 73 different countries and combines them to sound just like a real, live choir. You can hear it for yourself in this video:
The video performance of Water Night debuts simultaneously at the Lincoln Center in New York as well as via livestream online.
In this iteration of the project, Whitacre conducts 2,945 singers in a performance of Water Night, a 14-part piece he wrote with arrangements for soprano, alto, tenor and bass. To participate, singers downloaded the sheet music and audio files of their parts and followed along with a video of Whitacre conducting each section individually.
Once the singer learned the music, he or she recorded a video using a webcam and uploads it to the Virtual Choir site. Whitacre's team then sorted through all 3,746 videos submitted, edited them together into one film and prepared it for its big April 2 debut.
Water Night will also be included as part of the Titanic anniversary commemorations in Belfast, Ireland, and has audio-visual installations of the piece in the works for a number of venues.
The inspiration for Virtual Choir started when one fan of Whitacre's uploaded a video of herself singing Sleep in 2009. Whitacre sent a call out to his fans that they too should record themselves singing it and upload their version. The result of videos when edited together was impressive, inspireing Whitacre to encourage more people to submit videos, this time singing Lux Aurumque, which turned into the first Virtual Choir performance. In two months, the video received over one million hits.
For those who love singing but aren't sure if their voice would make it in to this choir, don't worry: with thousands of other singers, being a little off-key doesn't matter so much. Having such a large group singing the arrangement creates a stunning effect without showcasing any singer's weaknesses.
"The communal spirit, coming together to make something beautiful, still exists," Whitacre said to ABC News. "We haven't ever turned away a single singer. They've all made the cut."
UPDATE 04/03: Water Night is now available to watch online. You can check out the results here.