The innovation that he has brought to the music world surpasses anything else in the digital space and has sparked interest from leading classical artists as well as pop and electronic musicians. He is one of the most performed composers of our time, a distinguished conductor, broadcaster and public speaker with a wide spectrum of engagements across the globe, and a man who harnesses the power of the internet at every level.
Nevada born Whitacre has written for the London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, Chanticleer, Julian Lloyd Webber and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Berlin Rundfunkchor and The King’s Singers among others. His musical, Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings, won both the ASCAP Harold Arlen award and the Richard Rodgers Award, and earned 10 nominations at the Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Awards. A versatile musician, he has also worked with legendary film composer, Hans Zimmer, co-writing the Mermaid Theme for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Eric’s ground-breaking Virtual Choir, Lux Aurumque, received over a million views on YouTube in just 2 months (now past 3 million), featuring 185 singers from 12 different countries. Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 2.0, Sleep, was released in April 2011 and involved over 2,000 voices from 58 countries. Virtual Choir 3which launches in April 2012 has received 3,746 videos from 2,945 people in 73 countries. Countless recordings feature music written by Eric Whitacre, but his debut album as a conductor on Decca/Universal, Light & Gold, was released in October 2010 and became the no. 1 Classical Album in the US and UK charts within a week and won the Best Choral Performance Award at the 2012 Grammy Awards. In September 2011, Eric conducted the winning entries of the Abbey Road 80th Anniversary Anthem Competition, recording the London Symphony Orchestra with the Eric Whitacre Singers, in Abbey Road Studio 1. As a conductor, Eric Whitacre has performed across North America, Japan, Australia, China, Singapore, South America and much of Europe. An exceptional orator, he was honoured to address the U.N. Leaders programme and give a TEDTalk in March 2011 which earned the first full standing ovation of the conference. He has addressed audiences at The Economist, Duke & Harvard, Seoul Digital Forum and JCDA Conference in Tokyo. Eric is Composer in Residence at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University (UK).
Previewed here on Society of Sound is Whitacre’s second album ‘Water Night’. To be released on Decca in April 2012, it features seven world première recordings and presents Whitacre classics alongside his new repertoire, both choral and orchestra, displaying a range of styles with flashes of British influence. ‘Water Night’ features the Eric Whitacre Singers, the London Symphony Orchestra, soprano Hila Plitmann and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. It includes some of Whitacre’s most popular compositions (the title track and ‘Her Sacred Spirit Soars’), the minimalist-influenced ‘Equus’, two brand new choral works ‘Alleluia’ and ‘Oculi Omnium’, English-influenced ‘The River Cam’ (invited by Julian Lloyd Webber to mark his 60th birthday), ‘Sleep My Child’ from Whitacre’s award-winning musical ‘Paradise Lost’ and a tender lullaby set to the text of Margaret Wise Brown’s best-selling children’s book ‘Goodnight Moon’, the first musical setting ever.
Nick Parker, producer of Water Night, talks to Society of Sound about the recording process:
“The sheer range of this album presents the producers with quite specific challenges. Eric Whitacre's writing demands a wide palate of contrasts, both within the numbers themselves and as a result of the wide range of different musical genres, in itself a particular feature of this album.
In the A Cappella repertoire it's problematic to find an acoustic which effectively enhances the full range of vocal timbres over all dynamics; we look not only for detail, colour and intimacy in the quiet writing but also for a space which allows the more expansive, ecstatic passages sufficient freedom and warmth to blossom effortlessly without developing any harshness. Choice and placement of Capsules are of course paramount, and we take as much time as we can to compare and assess different combinations of microphone arrays before committing to a basic system for the sessions. Each individual piece or choral set-up will usually be subtly re-balanced to optimise its features, a process that will often involve the re-positioning of some microphones, or indeed moving certain performers around the sound-stage to achieve certain special effects and balances. In the St Albans sessions we mixed direct to Stereo while the music was performed and it is the data from those files (with no added reverberation, processing or mixing) that are available for download. I believe that St Alban's in Holborn is one of the finest long-reverberation venues in London and it has served us very well here.
For the orchestral numbers an entirely different ambience was required, but we still had to ensure a compatible colour-match so that the tracks could eventually sit comfortably interspersed with those recorded in the Holborn Venue. The complexity of the writing in Equus presented additional demands; for true precision of ensemble each player needs to be able to hear at least some of the contributions from their colleagues, without which, not much would' really have been together. It is an exciting piece which lives or dies by it's internal precision and it would have been completely impossible to record Equus in St Albans. The River Cam requires an acoustic setting capable of a wide range of colours, so a reasonable amount of natural reflection in the venue was desirable. Goodnight Moon suggests a different aural stage, with an intimate narrative vocal pick-up blanketed in warm glowing strings.
Taking all these varied parameters into account, we chose Henry Wood Hall in London, which is a wonderfully hermetic place to work, a flexible and generally quiet acoustic in a fine building with fully professional facilities. It also has the advantage of providing multiple spaces allowing studio-like separation for the solo-vocal recording.”
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