The coronavirus pandemic has not stifled the music world, as choirs, orchestras, and bands at every level are using virtual technology to perform, teach, or just send messages of hope around the world.
At the high school level, music teachers who had been rehearsing their students for concerts for weeks, suddenly found their school performances cancelled as a result of the coronavirus closures.
Caitlyn Walsh, music teacher at Rolling Meadows High School in a suburb of Chicago, told NPR she instructed her students to don their red T-shirts anyway and send in videos of themselves singing their parts for their “West Side Story in Concert.” A senior ultimately mixed the videos together:
Since we couldn't perform on stage tonight, we are sharing a taste of our "West Side Story in Concert" here! Kudos to these talented and dedicated singers for making our first virtual choir a reality! Shout out to @graceander13 for making the video! @RMFineArts @RMHSMUSTANGS pic.twitter.com/lFrcw0PSMG
— RMHS Choirs (@RMHS_Choir) March 20, 2020
At Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, music director Greg Gardner said he asks his students to send him a ten-minute voice memo of themselves each week practicing a song, and then creates his virtual choir. Below, the choir performs “I Am With You Always”:
The Children’s Voice Chorus from Palmetto Bay, South Florida, a non-profit organization, also became a virtual choir and performed “Bridge over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel:
In the professional world, the entire London Phantom of the Opera orchestra recorded a “virtual” video in March, in response to a tweet by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s office, to show their support as they observe coronavirus social distancing:
— Andrew Lloyd Webber (@OfficialALW) March 31, 2020
The orchestra members each submitted a video, audio, or photo individually to re-create “All I Ask of You,” from the long-celebrated musical, with the message, “Stay safe, that’s all we ask of you”:
Musicians of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra also performed Boléro from their homes as a tribute to healthcare workers caring for coronavirus patients:
Over 30 of the world’s most renowned trumpet players filmed and recorded themselves while in isolation. “A Hope for the Future,” written by Matt Catingub, was also dedicated to healthcare workers treating coronavirus victims. A full list of the trumpet players can be viewed at the YouTube website:
For those seeking to join virtual orchestras, choirs, or attend masterclasses and workshops while at home, Classical-music.com reports on the numerous opportunities for individuals.
British choirmaster Gareth Malone, for example, is inviting singers to join his national choir with his series, titled “Home Malone,” featured on Decca Records’ YouTube page.
Also from the UK, the Self-Isolation Choir is presenting “The Messiah at Home,” in association with ChoraLine, which helps provide vocal scores and audio prompts.
The Self-Isolation Choir will donate £5 from every participant to assist a cause coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
Choral director Ben England said, “This is a wonderful project.”
“A chance for everyone who loves choral singing to both raise their voices together across the world to sing arguably Handel’s greatest work and to raise money to fight this evil virus,” he said.
Under Executive Director Lee Saville-Iksic, who used Apple’s GarageBand and iMovie to create a virtual choir, the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus performed its rendition of “Homeward Bound,” which can be viewed here.
“We kind of found a hidden gem in this project, something that really got the kids excited,” Saville-Iksic said, reported TribLive. “I’m thinking of something like this once a year, even after things get back to normal. We’ve already received quite a bit of attention, and I think it’s something we’ll continue.”