Everything was in Shocking Technicolor

If you have yet to hear about Eric Whitacre, he is a rock star of the choral world, a charismatic man who is swarmed by admiring crowds at music conferences. I first heard about Eric Whitacre over a decade ago when my son sang two of his compositions — Water Night and Sleep — with the New Mexico All-State Choir, and I count myself a big fan.

Whitacre’s life story should give hope to anyone who starts late in music. In his
lecture on TED, he tells about going to the University of Nevada Las Vegas at age 18 with little musical experience. When the choir conductor discovered he could sing and asked him to join the UNLV choir, he at first refused, believing people who sang in the choir were “geeky.” However, he accepted the invitation after a friend told him he could travel to Mexico with the choir at the end of the semester.

Whitacre described his first day with the choir as a transformative experiences. As the choir began singing the
Kyrie from Mozart’s Requiem, he said everything changed. “In my entire life I had seen in black and white, and suddenly everything was in shocking Technicolor.”

Whitacre stayed with the choir, learned how to read music, and began studying composition. Within three years he had completed his first concert work,
Go, Lovely Rose. He then earned a graduate degree in composition from Juilliard and has since published numerous vocal and instrumental works, making quite a name for himself through his works for "virtual choir."

As my son told me, “If you meet someone who says they don’t like choral music, tell them about Eric Whitacre."

Eric Whitacre, Virtual Choir, Lux Aurumque

Eric Whitacre, Virtual Choir 2, Sleep

Eric Whitacre, Virtual Choir 3, Water Night