New Whitacre Piece Brings Bells To the TED Stage

Posted By Derek Nance on Mar 25, 2013 | 6 comments

I have always been a big Eric Whitacre fan.  He writes gorgeous, soaring works for band, choir, and orchestra that tug at your heart strings which I loved performing back in high school.  (Fun fact: Whitacre is a Nevada Native!)  Whitacre has a history of pushing the boundaries of the possible, and he was the one to pioneer the virtual choir project that spawned the current Handbell Virtual Ensemble that HBMA HMA is sponsoring.  His latest project that he premiered at the TED conference continues pushing the boundary of technology and music by Skyping in performers in real time to sing together (spoiler alert, he also weaves bells into the piece ingeniously).

A couple things stood out for me in this performance:

  1. Technology use: I love how Whitacre not only had performers join from across the globe, but he also wrote the music to compensate for the time delays created by the internet instead of spending tons of money to upgrade the technology.  One of the reasons video performances haven’t taken hold yet is because of the latency in internet connections, so maybe this will be a solution that will allow performers from across the globe to perform together.
  2. Audience participation: I love how towards the end he turns around and gets the audience to snap along.  He did not tell the audience before hand that they would be participating, yet they knew exactly what to do because they were swept up in the music.

Here is a video behind the scenes, looking at what it took to pull off this performance

In the future, I would love to have him write a bell piece!!  Anyone want to help me commission one?

If you liked this, I would highly recommend checking out his other works.  Also, subscribe to our blog in the side bar to get more stories about inspiring musicians.

Cover photo credit: TED Blog