The Lebanon County Choral Society (LCCS) has launched a virtual choir project.

The two selections for the project include Felix Mendelssohn’s “Heilig” and an arrangement of “Down in the River to Pray.”

“We will be preparing two pieces during rehearsals over five weeks. When we’ve finished rehearsals, singers will record their own parts on video at home,” Sean Hackett, LCCS’s Artistic Director, said.

“We will then send all of the videos to be professionally combined into a ‘performance.’ This concept was made famous by Eric Whitacre in 2010 and has been the basis for safe ensemble experiences for choirs and other groups around the world. The millisecond delay with Zoom means it is not possible to actually make music together, but it is possible to sing along while muted with a leader who unmutes their microphone.”

The project started on Feb. 15 and will have a total of five weekly virtual rehearsals until March 15. Each one will run from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Overall tone quality, phrasing, dynamics, and musicality will all be focused on during rehearsals. 

The materials and instructions will be distributed to each participant to record their own part at home after the last rehearsal. Then, all the recordings will be constructed into one.

“Waiting to record until rehearsals are complete will help the music to come into its own throughout the season as it typically does, and make the music a more collaborative effort,” Hackett said in a Facebook post. “During rehearsals, most singers will mute their microphone most of the time, though I will ask for individuals to provide demonstrations so you are not just listening to me the entire time. Our accompanist will also be leading from the keyboard so that we can sing our own part in the context of the others.”

Donations to help with costs are appreciated, as there is no fee to participate. 

“While no one believes that this is a replacement for making music together in person, we feel that it can provide an important bridge to the future of the Choral Society,” Hackett said in a Facebook post.

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