COVID-19 has canceled live choral performances across the globe, and those of the Gettysburg Concert Choir, Camerata, and Audeamus are no exceptions. The concert choir faces the largest challenges since it is composed of both college students and community members.
Each of the choirs is adapting to the challenges with virtual singing under the direction of college professor Dr. Robert Natter.
“I think the big thing is understanding that virtual choir is inherently different than singing together.” said Natter. “It is still cool in its own way and hopefully musically satisfying. It is much more removed from the immediacy of rehearsing and singing together.”
Natter said he plans to divide and conquer this semester to create a virtual performance. “No group would be able to put together a whole program on their own, because we are so remote. But, we’ll put together a contribution from each of the choirs and they will fit together into a whole that will become a virtual concert,” said Natter.
Natter is working with the singers to determine which voices blend well together. “There’s several ways we could do it; we could record all of the tenors, or all of the sopranos together. That’s probably what we’ll do for some songs.”
Natter said the process of combining the voices is time consuming. “If you are editing each individual part it takes at least an hour, if you’re lucky, usually about two hours.” Natter is learning how to utilize new software that makes recording easier for the singers.
Natter said everyone involved was learning something new, particularly about the limits of technology. “Ideally, I would like to be able to play back a recording [a singer] sends to me and tell them what they are doing well, and how they can improve it.” Natter said the plan was to create multiple recordings immediately in order for the singer to receive useful feedback. “I can show [the choir] the editing process over Zoom and help them learn something new.”
Natter said the community can expect to receive a “teaser” recording from the virtual choirs in the near future. “We’ll show people what we are doing and get them excited about it. That will then go into what we do at the end of the semester.”
“With everything going on in the world right now, there has never been a more important time for people to create art. It’s especially important now because we can’t be together. We should all do something to try to bring some beauty into the world. Art is something we can grab onto that is fulfilling and beautiful,” said Natter.
“Virtual choir is not what anyone expected, but I hope it’s fun and rewarding. I hope people can learn something, especially in this format. I want people to stick with choir because it’s definitely worth it,” said Natter.