With COVID-19 health regulations in place, Walla Walla University's ICantori choir has been unable to meet in person. Instead, choir members practice together virtually on Zoom videoconferencing three times a week, under the direction of Kraig Scott, WWU professor of music.
“Practice mostly consists of Dr. Scott leading warmups in his house while all the rest of us have our mics muted but warm up along with him. We then spend the rest of our time working on our parts for a piece of music we hope to record in isolation and then mix together,” says Jared Sexton, senior physics major.
The choir has discovered just how difficult it is to create music together while respecting COVID-19 boundaries. When they practice in person, Scott can quickly give feedback on how different sections sound. That feedback process is more complicated and less efficient when Scott can only hear one vocalist at a time.
To replace in-person concerts and performances, ICantori has produced three virtual choir recordings over the past two quarters. The complicated process begins with Scott recording a solo piano accompaniment. Recordings of individual students singing are then synced to the accompaniment. The process is further complicated by having to upload audio and visuals separately.
During fall quarter, ICantori produced a virtual recording of “How Can I Keep From Singing?” arranged by Gwyneth Walker. “I chose this piece because of its message: that even during this time of COVID quarantine, especially during this time, our choir still needs to sing and in fact cannot keep from singing,” says Scott. “The wonderful student singers of ICantori must sing, COVID or not. There are many reasons for this including the fact that singing makes us feel better, it makes us happier, it exercises our lungs and makes us healthier. It makes us feel less lonely, and singing with others in harmony is one of the greatest musical experiences possible.”
ICantori has also joined the Chamber Choir of Montana State University in a professional virtual choir project with American composer Jocelyn Hagen.
Watch “How Can I Keep From Singing?” and “The Greatest Good” at wallawalla.edu/icantori.