Culture Monster

All the Arts, All the Time

« Previous Post | Culture Monster Home | Next Post »

Eric Whitacre, saving choral music one note as a time [VIDEO]

June 18, 2011 |  6:30 am

Whitacre It used to be that joining a high school chorus was tantamount to committing social suicide. Now being in choir is hip in great part due to the Fox TV series “Glee.” But give a nod as well to the the choral music of Eric Whitacre.

As told in Sunday's Arts & Books profile of the 41-year-old Los Angeles-based composer, the careening, soaring harmonies and heart-on-your-sleeve emotions of Whitacre’s compositions have garnered him a devoted following in the choral music community. And his most obsessive groupies tend to be on the younger side.

“Singers, especially high schoolers and college kids, line up for blocks to get his autograph,” said Vance George, the director emeritus of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, of Whitacre’s fame.

So healthy is the appetite for Whitacre among teens, that high school chorus directors are using the composer’s pieces as bait to help recruit and retain talent. As a result, works like “Cloudburst,” “Lux Arumque” and “Sleep” have become standard repertory for youth and school choirs across the United States and beyond.

“Whitacre’s music is extremely teachable and it instantly gets the kids hooked,” said Todd Wedge, director of vocal music at the San Francisco School of the Arts. “It’s like crack to high school students.”

Here Whitacre conducts the VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers, the St. Olaf Choir and the 160-voice Minnesota High School Honors Choir in a performance of "Cloudburst" two years ago in  Minneapolis.


Just released: Watch Virtual Choir 2.0 Perform Eric Whitacre's 'Sleep'

Royal wedding: William and Kate's music coming soon to a choir near you

--Chloe Veltman

Photo: Eric Whitacre. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times