When the pandemic sent us into isolation, the world saw a flood of multi-tracked videos as musicians, desperate to perform together, formed ensembles online. But Eric Whitacre got there first with his Virtual Choir of 2010 – 185 singers meticulously edited together for a video performance of Lux Aurumque that has reached millions. Since then, he’s become a virtual rock star of contemporary choral music and on his previous visit to Sydney he filled the Opera House Concert Hall with fans.
On 17 September he returns to conduct the Sydney premiere of his latest major choral work, The Sacred Veil. It’s a collaboration with American poet Charles Anthony Silvestri, telling a story of love, loss and the search for solace. And although the personal inspiration at its core is the death of Silvestri’s wife, this intimate and compelling score follows a very human – and very relatable – journey.
“The Sacred Veil is a story for us all,” says Whitacre, “everyone has a place of pain that we can hardly bear to touch” and it taps into the way music – and especially singing – can help us grieve and heal.
From the “light and gold” of Lux Aurumque to this newest work, Whitacre’s music brings us shimmering harmonies, luxurious sonorities, searing intensity – and what better place to hear it than in incredible acoustics of the renewed Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House.
Eric Whitacre, conductor
Julian Smiles, cello
Claire Howard Race, piano