I tend in principle to reject what is Popular.
I tend in principle to be suspicious of the Beautiful, the Shining, the Oh-So-Handsome Bearer of A Beautiful Glowy New Message.
Therefore, Eric Whitacre is sort of the embodiment of what I normally exhibit immediate leeriness at. He is sweet, self-deprecating, a Guy’s Guy in artfully faded jeans with Surfer Dude hair. His music is new, yet accessible to the ears of non-musicians. He is Luke Skywalker. He is Blond Neo.
And yet, I, along with the rest of the world, cannot help looking to him with googly hope-eyes–not for what everyone (read: college girls) seems to see him as, but for what he is.
He’s a skilled choral composer with an instinctive understanding of the voice, and even more, the young voice. He is able to marry his inner vision (er…what’s the aural version of “vision”?) to an external expression in the language of the early 21st century Zeitgeist. He is steeped in the world of global communication and social media. He may be the guy who, singlehandedly, is the reason why people like me may still have jobs in 10, 15, or 20 years.
He’s making choral singing “cool.”
Check these out:
His TED talk, with the first Virtual Choir:
And Virtual Choir 2.0, just released this week:
For the record, my deepest and most abiding love is for the lovely warm rich Midwestern Choral Sound, the St. Olaf kind of depth rather than the light luminous English-choirboy sound Whitacre favors, and for which he seems to write. But hell. If he can bring choral music into the consciousness of this generation’s high schoolers and college students, then the playing field will be big enough for all of us for the next 30 years, and there will be room for all kinds of singing.
It’s like he’s starting a choral Baby Boom.
Be fertile and multiply, brother.