During the lockdown, we all experienced a deep sense of sadness witnessing the cancellation of concerts all over the world.
Many artists had to reschedule their tour dates and moved their activity online, delivering live streamed shows on their social media accounts or taking part in virtual festivals organized by venues and charities.
Here on GigsGuide we have been collecting and promoting thousands of online events, loyal to our mission of giving serendipity a gentle push and letting you discover new singers and bands to love even when you are comfortably sitting on your couch.
Singing together, apart
One of the musical phenomena that surprised us the most in this period has been the creative explosion of amateur musicians, who came together "virtually" to overcome the social distancing and kept playing and singing while staying at home.
Choirs, in particular, showed a remarkable inventiveness in finding new ways of rehearsing and performing.
I can personally confirm this, as I sing in a youth choir and our conductor Fabrizio Vestri had the readiness and foresight to move our weekly meetings online at the beginning of the quarantine. Stopping our live activity due to the pandemic was really traumatic, but we turned the situation to our own advantage, focusing on topics that we didn't have the time to discuss during the live rehearsals: more musical theory, rhythmics, sight-reading and specific breathing and vocal exercises.
All of this newly acquired knowledge led us to become more aware of our own voice and more confident in recording the videos that our conductor collected to create our very first virtual choir video.
What a challenging and surprising experience! In just a few days the video reached thousands of views on YouTube and was broadcasted on TV in Italy. People from all over the world reached out to express their appreciation and many were interested in participating in the project.
Our "small hobby" - normally struggling to get any attention or support from local institutions and decision-makers - was recognized worldwide. We became part of a wider movement of choir singers who leverage the potential of the Internet to reduce the distances and make new friends, sharing their passion for a cappella music.
Everybody can sing!
The strong point of choir singing is the fact that you don't need to be or become a professional musician to learn how to breath properly, listen and interact with the other sections, modulate your own voice and produce tuned chords... for a start you just have to follow your gut (and the conductor!), as you can see in this astonishing "harmony lesson" by Bobby McFerrin.
I experienced this "choir-effect" first-hand in 2012 when I participated in the "Europa Cantat Festival" in Turin, organized by the European Choral Association.
One of the best daily appointments was the "Open Singing" in Piazza San Carlo. A choir and a conductor on stage taught simple songs to the audience in the square. They then all sung together in a sort of emotional - and occasionally funny - happening, a true demonstration of the fact that everybody CAN sing, because singing is an inner and genuine human ability that only needs to be nurtured!
The lockdown may have made it more difficult to experience that sense of belonging and empathy that is certainly one of the main benefits of choral singing, but the choral community all over the world succeeded in reproducing the same feelings and emotions online. For instance, through innovative experiences like "Stay at Home Choir". The organizers of this initiative invited hundreds of singers to join leading exponents of choral music to sing along wonderful compositions.
You can see an example of the amazing results of the virtual collaboration between the best vocal group in the world, The King's Singers, and 732 choir geeks.
This kind of virtual performance is not new to the choral community.
American composer Eric Whitacre launched this initiative 10 years ago and became a reference point for many other similar experiments.
It is quite thrilling and touching to see all of these people so close to each other, testifying how powerful music is in overcoming physical and cultural barriers.
Preparing for better times
Musicians and music lovers alike, we all remember with nostalgia the good old times with live events, and we look forward to a time when we can all go back to performing - and singing along at - concerts again.
My choir and I are preparing for this long awaited moment with another virtual choir project that will become a live performance as soon as we are allowed to organize concerts again.
Six choirs from Rome are involved in this initiative, each one singing a different choral piece composed by the Italian conductor and composer Lorenzo Donati with the lyrics written by the poet Elisa Gastaldon.
Each of the pieces is independent and can be sung alone, but they are conceived to be assembled to compose a vertical choir in which the six songs intertwine and create a wider harmony.
The song assigned to my choir is called "Battiti" - "Beats", and it goes:
Strong beats of lives or wings resonate in silence
In those beats whispers the future of our pathway
May the silence "imposed" by this tough period be filled by the beats of our hearts, longing for the moment when we can freely make and enjoy live music together again!