The finale project of Quoddy Voices Spring 2021 Virtual Choir season is here—”Sing Gently.” Recorded by Quoddy Voices members participating from their homes in the Zoom-based season and edited together by director John Newell, the choir’s rendition of Eric Whitacre’s song has been illustrated by EAC Video’s Lauren Koss, using a mix of footage created over the past two months with singers from the group.
“Whitacre is renowned for his virtual choir projects involving thousands of singers from around the world,” notes Newell. “In response to the pandemic, he composed “Sing Gently,” writing both the text and the music. I feel that this astonishingly beautiful work will long remain as a signature choral piece for our time. It was so appropriate for Quoddy Voices to learn and perform our own version; a number of other choruses have done so as well.”
To create their rendition of the ‘instant classic’ choral composition, Newell provided his singers with guide tracks created by Whitacre, produced for his Virtual Choir 6 project, which involved 17,572 singers contributing from 129 countries. Thus, Newell noted, “Whitacre was guest conductor for our performance!”
For her part, Koss—upon hearing Newell’s edit of the tune—immediately asked to be involved with the accompanying video production. From this came a process, begun on her first day of being fully vaccinated, of visiting singers from the group in their homes and workplaces to shoot footage—both of singers singing alone, and of them writing the text of the piece. “John felt that it was important that viewers know the words,” she noted.
Participants included Pam and Steve Koenig, who wrote out lyrics in their garden; Barb Smith and Barbara Fox, near their homes in Eastport and Trescott, who each wrote a portion of the text and also are pictured with their choral folders singing; Newell himself, shown writing and playing the piano part on Keith Hall’s piano in Lubec; and Anne McGhie, who wrote out the chorus at her workplace—an elementary school. Of special note is McGhie’s comment that prior to the pandemic’s introduction of the Quoddy Voices virtual choir projects, she’d been unable to participate in the group due to the length of her commute and the early morning demands of her profession. Interspersed with these clips are additional shots of Fox’s garden and cove, and a favorite Eastport ‘pocket beach.’ To conclude the video, a selection of photos of Quoddy Voices over the years are shown, thanks to photographers Robin Farrin and Brandy Argir.
For more videos about Quoddy Voices—including an interview with Newell and previous Virtual Choir projects, please visit the choir’s page here: https://eastportartscenter.org/constituent-groups/quoddy-voices/.