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Music, the Universal Language
By Paige Schneweis
4/2/2013 3:12:00 PM

Music has this incredible ability to transcend culture, language, and borders.  People all over the world are able to connect through music.  While browsing the internet, I have often come across inspiring examples of music bursting through barriers to unite humans, no matter background, beliefs, values, and opinions.

One of my absolute favorite illustrations of music’s transcending powers is Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir project.  According to his website, it all began as a social media experiment by a young girl back in 2009, and it has evolved into thousands of people singing together from all over the world via the internet.  If you haven’t seen any of the three Virtual Choir videos that have been produced so far, what Whitacre does is provide a video of himself conducting the piece, which people from all over the world watch and sing along with, choosing their preferred voice part, record it, and send it in.  The videos are then compiled, synced, and made into an amazing audio and visual experience.

This is the first Virtual Choir that was done, performing Whitacre’s piece, “Lux Aurumque.”  Twelve countries are represented in this first go at the project.

This is Virtual Choir 2.0 in which the singers perform his piece, “Sleep” (one of my personal favorites).  This time around, there are 2,052 performances from 58 countries!

The most recent production, Virtual Choir 3.0, revealed in April 2012, is a performance of Whitacre’s “Water Night.”  It features a stunning 3,746 videos from 73 countries!

I had already seen the videos in the past, but I decided to write this post after watching a recent TEDtalk in which Eric Whitacre and a live choir, along with singers on Skype, perform “Cloudburst.”  The experience sent chills through my body (as the other videos have done).  I actually felt tears beginning to well up, just listening to and watching people from all over the world connect with each other and with the audience through the music (with a little help from technology).  It’s a nice bit of peace in a world of far too much sadness, fighting, and hatred.  It's a little bit cheesy, but I'm being very sincere; it’s an outstanding demonstration of what the human experience should be about - unity, love, and passion.

It’s hard to really describe the experience that Eric Whitacre’s project provides.  No words can do it justice.  But I suppose that’s why music exists—to be the language for when there are no words.  So to fully understand the beauty and power of it, you really just have to watch it and listen to it, with undivided attention.

Please enjoy, and thank you for reading today.


“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

I’m going to borrow the discussion question that was on the TEDtalk page.  What role does music play in our lives?

Tags: intern, music, universal language, Eric Whitacre, Virtual Choir
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