NEWMARKET - The veritable shutdown of the community to slow the spread of COVID-19 has sidelined many events and activities, but one Newmarket school choir has found a way to debut its new song.
Inspired by acclaimed U.S. composer Eric Whitacre, who is widely regarded as the pioneer of the virtual choir, Sir William Mulock Secondary School’s award-winning Enter A Cappella group harnessed technology to perform separately but together, That’s All I’ve Got To Say.
“The results were fantastic,” said Chris Uchida, a teacher and staff advisor to the contemporary 15-person choir that in 2019 won second place in the national CBC Music Class Challenge, and placed in the top 10 each of the past four years it competed.
It wasn’t long after the student vocal ensemble got together for their last rehearsal before March break that the provincial government announced it was shuttering schools until further notice in a bid to stop the rapid spread of the new coronavirus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19.
The group was to have performed composer Jimmy Webb’s song at the April 6 grand reopening of the NewRoads Centre for the Performing Arts (formerly the Newmarket Theatre).
“We were going to debut it at our coffee house and then perform it at the theatre, but everything started closing and we thought we’d never get a chance to perform this song,” Uchida said.
Uchida said he and the student singers knew how a virtual choir could work, where individuals participate from separate locations and technology brings those musical parts together into one.
“We started seeing other choirs on YouTube doing virtual choirs and I approached the group and asked if they’d be interested in trying this themselves,” he said.
The virtual performance uploaded last week to YouTube has so far been viewed more than 5,100 times.
The CBC has contacted Uchida about sharing it on their platforms, and Grammy award-winner Webb sent the ensemble a personal note of praise and also shared the Enter A Cappella video on his social media.
“The students were just so excited to see people’s reaction to it,” Uchida said.
Enter A Cappella’s group members include: Emi Arshad; Kristen-Amber Kharag; Erin Bartlett; Ekaterina Kostantinovks; Madison Billingham; Eric Montpool; Caitlin Davie; Madeline Morphy; Gwyneth Faria; John Morrissey; Caileigh Graham; Malcolm Rank; Julia Hill; Andrew Yang; and Allison Huynh.