2 BiographyEric Whitacre was born January 2, 1970 in Reno, Nevada. He gained his interest in classical music late in life when he joined his college choir in Las Vegas, UNLV. He claims that the first time that he sand Mozart’s Requiem his life was changed forever. He continued on to the Juilliard School of Music in New York, New York where he earned his Master of Music degree. There he studied with John Corigliano, a Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning composer. He married Hila Plitmann, a Grammy award winning soprano, and had a son. They now live in London where he still composes and conducts. He is now only 42 years of age.
3 Eric Whitacre is now one of the most popular composers of our time Eric Whitacre is now one of the most popular composers of our time. His first composition was Go, Lovely, Rose, which he completed at 21. He has now gone on to write and conduct many more commonly preformed pieces for the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Chanticleer, Julian Lloyd Webber, Rundfunkchor Berlin and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He also conducts and instructs at workshops for aspiring conductors and musicians.
4 His works range from wind symphonies to solo voice, and from musical theatre to orchestral; however, most of his compositions are in the standard SATB choral style. He has 26 compositions in this style alone many with multiple parts. Outside of SATB choral style Whitacre has many other composition. For his choral parts he uses poems from such writers as Emily Dickinson and E. E. Cummings.
5 Another place where Whitacre has found success is with his ingenious Virtual Choir. Here he selects one of his compositions and gives the score away on YouTube or his blog where anybody is able to download it and learn a part of their choosing. They then record themselves singing the part and post the video as a response on YouTube. Whitacre then takes all of these recordings and mixes them and they become his choir. He then posts the final product of the compilation onto YouTube so that the participants as well as others can see themselves singing in the one of the largest international choirs in the world.
6 His rendition of Lux Aurumque had over a three million views on YouTube. In the Virtual Choir he featured 185 singers from 12 different countries around the world. After this success in 2010 Whitacre did it again with Virtual Choir 2.0 and the song Sleep. This featured over 2,000 voices from 58 countries. Now, Virtual Choir 3 has received 3746 voices from 73 countries. It is currently in production and is scheduled for launch in April With these growing numbers Whitacre plans to continue with the Virtual choirs. The inspiration for Whitacre’s Virtual Choirs came from a video from a young girl singing one of his pieces.
7 Composition HistoryEric Whitacre has been composing works since he was attending UNLV. His first major work was composed for one of his classes there. He has not stopped composing since he started. He often uses poems or short pieces written by others as the lyrics of his works.
8 Cloudburst“The rain…we must sing till the song puts forth roots,Eyes of shadow-watertrunk, branches, birds, stars,we must find the lost word,eyes of well-water,and remember what the blood,the tides, the earth, and the body say,eyes of dream-water.and return to the point of departure…Blue suns, green whirlwinds,Octavio Paz,birdbeaks of light pecking open(Adapted by Eric Whitacre, Translation by Lysander Kemp)”pomegranate stars.But tell me, burnt earth, is there no water?Only blood, only dust,Only naked footsteps on the thorns?The rain awakens…We must sleep with open eyes,we must dream with our hands,we must dream the dreams of a river seeking its course,of the sun dreaming its worlds,we must dream aloud,Cloudburst was published in 1995 by Eric Whitacre. The text is taken from a poem by Octavio Paz. This piece was written for a high school choir conducted by Dr. Jocelyn K. Jensen. She had approached him after one of his concerts and asked him to compose something for her choir. He had known her for her choirs showmanship. He had recently attained a book containing many of Octavio Paz’s poems and had recently witnessed an actual cloudburst. He adapted an old campfire game for the finger snapping to simulate rain and used large sheets of tin that they had gathered from the school for the sounds of thunder.. Originally the piece was about ten minutes long. Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe convinced Whitacre to condense the piece. So Whitacre tightened it up to eight and a half minutes.This piece was preformed at UNAM, the university that Octavio Paz attended, in It was preformed in its native language. Whitacre claims that this song is his favorite collaboration with Octavio Paz. He did not direct it, but was happy to know that it was preformed there.
9 Go, Lovely RoseGo, Lovely Rose is a poem written by Edmund Waller in the 17th century. Eric Whitacre set it to his own music for his choir teacher at UNLV, David Weiller. He preformed it in 1991 for the first time. In 1992 they performed it at the ACDA convention in Hawaii. After the performance Barbara Harlow, of Santa Barbara Music, told him that should would like to publish the work. It was published with two other flower poems that he had set to music.“Go, lovely roseTell her that wastes her time and me,That now she knows,When I resemble her to thee,How sweet and fair she seems to be.Tell her that’s young,And shuns to have her graces spied,That hadst thou sprungIn deserts where no men abide,Thou must have uncommended died.Small is the worthOf beauty from the light retired;Bid her come forth,Suffer herself to be desired,And not blush so to be admired.Then die! That sheThe common fate of all things rareMay read in thee;How small a part of time they share,That are so wondrous sweet and fair!Edmund Waller, ”
10 Listening Guide Cloudburst Originally 10 min Written for Dr. Jocelyn K. JensenNotesCloudburst0:00The choir starts out in p. They sing a straight chord that goes from major to minor at 0:08. This is sustained until 0:15.0:22The different parts start to breakout into different rhythms and melodies and the overall feel/mood is chaotic. They crescendo up into the same note to an abrupt stop.0:38The choir all joins in on the same rhythm.0:50The tenors and bass have the melody while the soprano and alto sustain a chord.0:58There is a bass solo.1:08The tenors and basses join in and sing together. The women are still silent. It sounds like a Gregorian chant.1:27The women join in.1:48Begins with soprano stacking the chord in a descending line.1:53Sopranos sustain a chord while the altos take the melody.2:00The melody switches seamlessly to the bass line without even a break or octave change.2:32Bass solo that is loud and strong much like an opera singer. The choir is singing different chords behind him.2:42While the lower choir sings together the sopranos switch between two notes that are one half step away from each other, creating dissonance.2:45The bass solo starts again. It sounds like a narrative since he is not singing but speaking.3:03After the choir sings in a low register the sopranos sing in a high and they descend while the rest of the choir ascends melodically.3:14The sopranos join with the rest of the choir and descends.3:44There is a break and the basses come in on their own and then the choir stacks the chord up.3:56The choir stacks up the same chord in a higher key.4:06The choir stacks up a different chord which is higher than the previous chord. Also each time a new line joins in.4:14Another chord is stacked.4:23They stack another chord, but quicker and more disjointed than previously. This creates a harmony that produces audible overtones.4:34They are building up but continue farther than a singular chord. It sounds as if they are crescendo-ing towards a a climax. The dissonance has created so much tension that a release is imminent.4:45The chord resolves itself almost entirely. Most of the tension is released but is not entirely resolved.4:52The choir goes into unison for a couple of notes and the breaks down again.5:00The choir decrescendos to a pp.5:04The alto and soprano parts create dissonance.5:10The first soprano solo. She begins with a sforzando. She sings it very straight and there isn’t much fluff. There is a little vibrato.5:30They shout whisper in order to create the effect of wind.5:32There is a wind chime in the supposedly a cappella performance. There is also a xylophone. There is also a cymbal being lightly hit without a large crash. The xylophone plays a mystical melody in a major key. The choir is silent.6:00The choir subtly adds to the texture of the piece by entering with a singular vowel sound to not detract from the instruments. They ascend by note on a minor scale.6:18The choir crescendos building up tension while the instruments stay constant.6:21There is a reverse cymbal effect building up to a crash followed by hard and low drum beats.6:26The choir starts snapping their fingers to create the effect of rain.6:30The choir begins a polyphonic, polyrhythmic stanza while still snapping.6:34Through the polyphony the basses stand out in a strong melodic line and then fade back into the choir.6:40The bass line is replaced by the altos standing out. As they fade back into the choir the sopranos take over. The drums do a rallentando to a strong down beat.7:00There is a cello that plays a few staccato notes. There is a mass build up and release with the drums and the wind chimes. The chaos turns to order at 7:02 as a solid rhythmic pattern is established.7:09The choir decrescendos as the drums mimic thunder again with a rallentando. The choir begins snapping again as well.7:17The choir seems solemn.7:24A piano does a high arching run over the choir. While the choir sings somberly the piano intersperses with joyful, high-pitched runs along with wind chimes.7:51The piano plays chords along with the choir to create a more cohesive feel. It feels peaceful, as the dissonance is at a minimum.8:15The choir fades out and there is silence for the final 11 seconds to allow the effect of the final resolution to resonate with the audience.
11 Listening Guide Go, Lovely Rose Poem by Edmund Waller Set to music while at UNLVNotes0:00The choir begins in unison and quickly branches out becoming more diverse with each beat.0:28The choir sings the part and then the soprano repeats the line a few beats later. The choir is crescendo-ing on each note.0:45The sopranos go alone and descend singing the last line of the phrase.0:55The tempo speeds up and the texture becomes more polyphonic. The melody begins descending in triplets.1:20An ascending line begins by step and creates dissonance.1:26A tenor solo begins while the choir sings background. When the tenor solo ends a soprano solo begins. The choir sings the same rhythm as the solo but the solo still stands out.1:55After a break lasting 3 seconds the tenors and altos begin on the same note and all parts branch out from that note.2:23The basses sing by themselves a melody with a small range. The basses split and both tenor parts join in as well. It is disjunct at this time.2:43The dissonance is resolved if only for a few measures. There is a build up in both volume and pitch of all parts.2:50Beginning with the sopranos the melody descends quickly and there is a drastic decrescendo.3:20There is a single descending melodic line that the sopranos sing and then the rest of the choir joins in.3:50There is a crescendo in the choir.4:00A chord is sung for multiple measures and at 4:06 the chord resolves, unresolves, and then resolves again. The song ends at 4:18.
12 Works Cited "Eric Whitacre. " Absolute Astronomy. Absolute Astronomy Works Cited "Eric Whitacre." Absolute Astronomy. Absolute Astronomy. Web. 21 Feb <http:// Lefevre, Peter. "Walton Music - Eric Whitacre." Welcome to Walton Music. Web. 21 Feb <http://www.waltonmusic.com/whitacre.html>. Whitacre, Eric. "Cloudburst." Cloudburst – SATB Choral – Music Catalog –. Web. 21 Feb <http://ericwhitacre.com/music-catalog/satb-choral/cloudburst>. Whitacre, Eric. "Cloudburst En Ciudad De Mexico." Cloudburst En Ciudad De México – Blog –. 7 Apr Web. 21 Feb <http://ericwhitacre.com/blog/cloudburst-en- ciudad- de-mexico>. Whitacre, Eric. "Three Flower Songs." Three Flower Songs – SATB Choral – Music Catalog –. Web. 21 Feb <http://ericwhitacre.com/music-catalog/satb-choral/three- flower- songs>.
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