"Well a couple of years ago, a friend of mine emailed me a link, a YouTube link, and said, 'You have got to see this.' And it was this young woman who had posted a fan video to me, singing the soprano line to a piece of mine called 'Sleep.'
(Video) Britlin Losee: Hi Mr. Eric Whitacre. My name is Britlin Losee, and this is a video that I'd like to make for you. Here's me singing 'Sleep.' I'm a little nervous, just to let you know. ♫ If there are noises ♫ ♫ in the night ♫
Eric Whitacre: I was thunderstruck. Britlin was so innocent and so sweet, and her voice was so pure. And I even loved seeing behind her. I could see the little teddy bear sitting on the piano behind her in her room. Such an intimate video.
And I had this idea: if I could get 50 people to all do this same thing, sing their parts -- soprano, alto, tenor and bass -- wherever they were in the world, post their videos to YouTube, we could cut it all together and create a virtual choir. So I wrote on my blog, 'OMG OMG.' I actually wrote, 'OMG,' hopefully for the last time in public ever. (Laughter) And I sent out this call to singers. And I made free the download of the music to a piece that I had written in the year 2000 called 'Lux Aurumque', which means 'light and gold.' And low and behold, people started uploading their videos.
Now I should say, before that, what I did is I posted a conductor track of myself conducting. And it's in complete silence when I filmed it, because I was only hearing the music in my head, imagining the choir that would one day come to be. Afterwards, I played a piano track underneath so that the singers would have something to listen to. And then as the videos started to come in ...
(Singing) This is Cheryl Ang from Singapore.
(Singing) This is Evangelina Etienne
(Singing) from Massachusetts.
(Singing) Stephen Hanson from Sweden.
(Singing) This is Jamal Walker from Dallas, Texas.
There was even a little soprano solo in the piece, and so I had auditions. And a number of sopranos uploaded their parts. I was told later, and also by lots of singers who were involved in this, that they sometimes recorded 50 or 60 different takes until they got just the right take -- they uploaded it. Here's our winner of the soprano solo. This is Melody Myers from Tennessee. (Singing) I love the little smile she does right over the top of the note -- like, 'No problem, everything's fine.'
And from the crowd, emerged this young man, Scott Haines. And he said, 'Listen, this is the project I've been looking for my whole life. I'd like to be the person to edit this all together.' I said, 'Thank you, Scott. I'm so glad that you found me.' And Scott aggregated all of the videos. He scrubbed the audio. He made sure everything lined up. And then we posted this video to YouTube about a year and a half ago. This is 'Lux Aurumque' sung by the Virtual Choir.
I'll stop it there in the interest of time. (Applause)
Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you. So there's more. There's more. Thank you so much.
And I had the same reaction you did. I actually was moved to tears when I first saw it. I just couldn't believe the poetry of all of it -- these souls all on their own desert island, sending electronic messages in bottles to each other. And the video went viral. We had a million hits in the first month and got a lot of attention for it. And because of that, then a lot of singers started saying, 'All right, what's Virtual Choir 2.0?' And so I decided for Virtual Choir 2.0 that I would choose the same piece that Britlin was singing, 'Sleep', which is another work that I wrote in the year 2000 -- poetry by my dear friend Charles Anthony Silvestri. And again, I posted a conductor video, and we started accepting submissions. This time we got some more mature members. (Singing) And some younger members.
(Video) Soprano: ♫ Upon my pillow ♫ ♫ Safe in bed ♫ EW: That's Georgie from England. She's only nine. Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever seen?
Someone did all eight videos -- a bass even singing the soprano parts. This is Beau Awtin. (Video) Beau Awtin: ♫ Safe in bed ♫
EW: And our goal -- it was sort of an arbitrary goal -- there was an MTV video where they all sang 'Lollipop' and they got people from all over the world to just sing that little melody. And there were 900 people involved in that. So I told the singers, 'That's our goal. That's the number for us to beat.' And we just closed submissions January 10th, and our final tally was 2,051 videos from 58 different countries. Thank you. (Applause) From Malta, Madagascar, Thailand, Vietnam, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, as far north as Alaska and as far south as New Zealand.
And we also put a page on Facebook for the singers to upload their testimonials, what it was like for them, their experience singing it. And I've just chosen a few of them here. 'My sister and I used to sing in choirs together constantly. Now she's an airman in the air force constantly traveling. It's so wonderful to sing together again!' I love the idea that she's singing with her sister. 'Aside from beautiful music, it's great just to know I'm part of a a worldwide community of people I never met before, but who are connected anyway.' And my personal favorite, 'When I told my husband that I was going to be a part of this, he told me that I did not have the voice for it.' Yeah, I'm sure a lot of you have heard that too. Me too. 'It hurt so much, and I shed some tears, but something inside of me wanted to do this despite his words. It is a dream come true to be part of this choir, as I've never been part of one. When I placed a marker on the Google Earth Map, I had to go with the nearest city, which is about 400 miles away from where I live. As I am in the Great Alaskan Bush, satellite is my connection to the world.'
So two things struck me deeply about this. The first is that human beings will go to any lengths necessary to find and connect with each other. It doesn't matter the technology. And the second is that people seem to be experiencing an actual connection. It wasn't a virtual choir. There are people now online that are friends; they've never met. But, I know myself too, I feel this virtual esprit de corps, if you will, with all of them. I feel a closeness to this choir -- almost like a family.
What I'd like to close with then today is the first look at 'Sleep' by Virtual Choir 2.0. This will be a premier today. We're not finished with the video yet. You can imagine, with 2,000 synchronized YouTube videos, the render time is just atrocious. But we do have the first three minutes. And it's a tremendous honor for me to be able to show it to you here first. You're the very first people to see this. This is 'Sleep,' the Virtual Choir. ...
Eric Whitacre: Thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you."
(TED Talks, 2011)
Fig.1 'Eric Whitacre: A virtual choir 2,000 voices strong', filmed March 2011, posted April 2011
Fig.2 'Lux Aurumque'
Fig.3 Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 2.0, 'Sleep'
"How many of the paintings displayed at the Vietnamese National Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi are originals and how many are copies?
That question has been a topic of hot discussion in Vietnam for quite some time.
It is well known among Vietnamese artists that the museum has been hanging works of art that are in fact copies of very famous Vietnamese paintings as some of the originals were either sold or lost.
The leading art historian and Vietnamese painting expert, Nora Taylor, from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, believes that about half of the paintings displayed at the museum are in fact copies.
According to Nguyen Do Bao, the former chairman of the Hanoi Fine Arts Association, the practice began with the best of intentions.
'The practice started during the war (between North and South Vietnam) in the 1960s. Copies were displayed at the museum while the originals were taken away to avoid being damaged during bombing raids,' he explained.
At the time it seemed a great idea, but the problem was that nobody seemed to be in control.
Not all of the original paintings were returned to the museum after the war."
(Ha Mi, 21 May 2009, BBC Vietnamese Service)
[Several museums say they have the original of Playing the O An Quan]
"Nevertheless, research which may be vital to the making of a dance work manifests itself differently from conventional research, both in outcomes and intent. Even artists who regard research as central to their practice still tend to view, as their ultimate goal, the artistic product - be it a dance, theatre or musical or hybrid performance, live or via another medium.
Reflective practice, by which I mean artistic practice as research, on the other hand, consciously explores and analyses connections between perception and action, experience and cognition. Although other research can be argued to do likewise, it may be relationships - between the parts and the whole, between form and content, between events and objects, between space and time - which makes artistic practice as research distinctive. Artistic practice as research also involves the presence of researcher/artist and researched/artists in a mutual collaboration and thus its nature is not only relational but emergent, interactive and embodied."
(Cheryl Stock, Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
"The New Zealand war memorials of the First World War have become part of the common fabric of NZ life, like stop signs or lamp-posts. Virtually every township in the country has one, usually in the main street. Excluding the many honours boards and plaques in schools and churches throughout the country, there are well over five hundred public memorials to the soldiers of the Great War."
(Ted Harris: DiggerHistory.Info)
[New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance and recent reluctance to engage in International conflicts has its reasons. Despite it's geographical remoteness it has not escaped the impact of war. The numerous memorials erected throughout it's countryside, in it's cities and it's towns are a testament to this. There are memorials commemorating the New Zealanders that died in: The Boer War; The Great War; The Second World War; The Korean War; The Vietnam War as well as more recent conflicts. New Zealand is not naive to the great cost of waging war.]
"The [Enemy Image] traces the development of the image of war on American television from Vietnam to the present day. Enemy Image uses outstanding reports and images from American wars of the last 30 years to explore the changing role of the war correspondent and the strange disappearance of dead bodies from the image of war. Writer-Director Mark Daniels comments, 'This film developed out of my encounter with the remarkable Vietnam War reporting of Wilfred Burchett and Roger Pic. They witnessed and reported that war as no other Westerners could, and their body of work remains an historical treasure. 'Their films opposed American images of technical and material power with images of revolutionary solidarity, improvisation, and sacrifice. With the War in Iraq, - journalists 'embedded' with American and British forces brought sights and sounds from the battlefield to the living room, live.' But where was the tragedy? Where was the cruelty? Where was the heroism?"