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The Eric Whitacre Phenomenon

Click here for a partial transcript of my interview with Eric ahead of his Philadelphia appearance with Eric Whitacre Singers! And hear the complete interview (audio/video) below:


Ever since 2007, when I heard Eric Whitacre’s music for the first time and subsequently was fortunate to sing some of it with Choral Arts Philadelphia, I was forever drawn to his unique style: the ideal balance - not a conflict - between the humanity and technology. The honest and heavenly, ancient-sounding spectrum of harmonies is happily married to the bold use of contemporary expressive means, which -- blended together -- work amazingly well to deliver the true meaning of the poetry straight into my heart. And these “delivery means" do not incorporate just singing. Eric often takes singers outside their “vocal box” and makes use of their abilities to whisper, speak, make noise, clap, snap, hit percussion, etc. (a great example is his Cloudburst where, in the second part of the piece, singers are imitating the sounds of thunder and a downpour). 

Born in Nevada in 1970, into a non-musical family, Eric was a member of a high school marching band, played keyboard, and aspired to become a rock star. However, after joining the college choir at the University of Nevada, his life took a dramatic turn towards a career in classical music (blame the opening chords of Mozart Requiem he heard at the first choir rehearsal!). He went on to get his Master’s degree in composition at the Juilliard School where he studied with John Corigliano and David Diamond. Eric is currently a composer in residence at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University, UK.

In addition to composing, conducting, being a gifted speaker, educator, and broadcaster, Eric is a true child of the modern world who takes full advantage of today’s technology to express the message of his music, inspiring many thousands of people, worldwide, along the way. 

An active participant on Facebook and Twitter, with 120K+ and 39K+ followers respectively, including yours truly, Eric is a huge fan of pop/rock music, games like Zelda and Journey, and a creator of very personable short “explainer” videos for each track on his most recent Water Night album.

Inspired by the style of Japanese anime and manga, he wrote a hit musical Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings (premiered in 2007), successfully mixing musical theater, opera, electronica, film score and Asian Drumming.

Virtual Choir projects -- three of them produced so far, and a fourth one coming this summer -- started with just one fan video and turned into a global singing adventure, with thousands voices from 73 countries united in perfect harmony, all put together thanks to high tech, cutting edge audio/video engineering which is only possible in the 21st century. What other choral composer could come up with such a cool idea?  

No wonder Whitacre's music, imagination, and even his own personality have such a wide appeal to a younger generation, the very generation many classical music institutions are trying to win over. I think it’s safe to say that Whitacre’s dream of his youth has come true. He is a rock star, a rock star of today’s choral music, and not just choral - his instrumental works for winds and orchestra deserve some serious separate attention. But that’s a conversation for another day.

Check out my interview with Eric ahead of his Philadelphia appearance with Eric Whitacre Singers:

Eric Whitacre Singers and the Inaugural U.S. Tour, March 18-21, 2013

For the first time, Whitacre is coming back to the U.S. to present his own choir, Eric Whitacre Singers, with the program called “Inspirations,” presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY).

The 2-year old ensemble has already established itself as one of the finest choirs of our day. This all-professional group of 18 voices has won a GRAMMY ® for Best Choral Performance in 2012 for their debut album Light & Gold. Their second album, Water Night (which also features the London Symphony Orchestra, soprano Hila Plitmann [Eric's wife], and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber) was an immediate No. 1 in the classical iTunes chart on the day of its release.

Eric Whitacre Singers' one-day-only concert in Philadelphia is tightly packed between other one-day appearances in Bethesda, Boston and New York City. The Philly audiences will welcome the Singers on Wednesday, March 20th at 8 PM at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall. 

INSPIRATIONS Program:

Monteverdi: Sfogava con le stelle
Whitacre: Lux Aurorum
Lauridsen: Luci Serene Chiara
Whitacre: Alleluia
Whitacre: Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine
Whitacre: When David Heard
Bach: Singet dem Herrn
Bach/London: Come sweet death
Whitacre: Animal Crackers
Whitacre: The City and the Sea
Whitacre: A Boy and a Girl
Corigliano: Forever Young
ALSO: Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode), a capella setting by Eric Whitacre

Click here for a partial transcript of my interview with Eric ahead of his Philadelphia appearance with Eric Whitacre Singers!


Inna Heasley is a freelance public relations consultant, founder and owner at PR Perfect. Her main focus in PR is promotion of the arts in the Philadelphia area. Inna is also an alto singer with Choral Arts Philadelphia. Contact her directly at inna@pr-perfect.com.  

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