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Eric Whitacre and the Cosmic Swiss Watch

March 26, 2018

 

Other than the fact that he is an international phenomenon and has much better hair, Eric Whitacre is a lot like me. We both are composers, born in the early 70's in the US, were raised in secular households, wanted to be in Depeche Mode when were teens, and still want to be in Depeche Mode now. Most importantly, we both have what can only accurately be described as a reverence for harmony in and of itself. Those moments in music when all the parts are moving together as a "Cosmic Swiss Watch" - his words, my sentiment exactly.

 

At a talk given at Oxford Union (Eric Whitacre - Full Address), Whitacre was asked by a student about his "airy" sound. This stylistic element Eric clarified as being "clustery", meaning that the extended chords he uses contain several small intervals (2nds), creating what he calls a "Cloud of overtones. God lives in that cloud," he explains. 

 

Yet another thing that Eric and I share: a personal concept of God and spirituality through our experiences with music, and vocal harmony in particular. He admits to the eager minds at the Oxford Union address that he is not a Christian, and finds it difficult to set strictly religious text to music. Still, there is a deeply spiritual element to much of his work.

 

At the time of this writing, Whitacre's Virtual Choir - 'Lux Aurumque' is almost exactly 8 years old (by Youtube's publication date) and is, in fact, a Christmas song, in Latin. The video has well over 5.6 million views. There are several other Virtual Choirs to experience as well, all grander in scope, with hundreds of participants growing into thousands from all over the world.

 

I'm posting this video below to get you started, but every single one is worth watching, and not just because the compositions are quite lovely and well performed. Whitacre believes that, in this age of global connectivity, the next great pillars of humanity and universal brotherhood will be erected in this virtual realm, and he seems to be doing his part. To me, using the technology to bring people together in harmony, if only virtually, is one of the best uses of said technology, if not the best altogether.

 

Although I do love me a good BatDad compilation.

 

 

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