Art TED Conferences

A choir live and online: Eric Whitacre at TED2013

Posted by: Ben Lillie
Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In an extraordinary finale for TED2013, Eric Whitacre stages a type of performance that has never been seen before, with a choir assembled to sing his composition, “Cloudburst.” It’s not just any choir. He’s joined on stage by 100 live singers formed from choirs from California State University, Long Beach Campus, California State University, Fullerton Campus, and Riverside City College. That’s been done before. He is also joined, via Skype, by 32 singers from 32 different countries connecting from their homes.

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Whitacre is famous for his Virtual Choir, and the follow-up, shown first on stage at TED. But no one has ever attempted to put a live choir together with a virtual one. In part this is because of the latency issues of the connection. It’s less than a second, but in singing that is still a potentially huge problem. So, he adapted “Cloudburst,” one of his earliest pieces, to embrace that latency.

The effect is stunning. We listen to this amazing piece, aware of the vast connection enabled by the Internet.

Photo: Ryan Lash

Photo: Ryan Lash

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Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Eric Whitacre’s talk is now available for viewing. Watch it on TED.com»

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