The City University of New York (CUNY) Virtual Choir Project at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) was launched in February, a few weeks before much of the nation came under orders to stay at home due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Now organizers of the project hope it offers people an opportunity to come together—virtually— through music.
Aspiring singers from around world, regardless of training, are invited to participate. The project seeks to connect people through music with each other, and more especially, with BMCC and CUNY students as well as other New York City community members.
The project is being funded by the 2019-2020 Diversifying CUNY’s Leadership: CUNY-Harvard Consortium and led by Music and Art Department Chairperson Eugenia Oi Yan Yau.
Interested participants can practice then record and upload performances of two original songs onto the Virtual Choir website. The two songs are— “Together Now,” composed by BMCC music Professor Quentin Angus, lyrics by Natalie Dietz— and “We Are Everywhere,” written by music professor Can Olgun with lyrics by Olgun and Suzzane Douglas.
The deadline to submit is May 31.
At a later date, the performances will be synched together and then live streamed online. Originally, plans called for the live stream to be accompanied by live performance by the BMCC community choir. The community choir includes BMCC students as well as members of the greater New York City community. But, it’s not clear yet when the choir will be able to regroup, at least in person. So for now, they’ve gone cyber too.
“All our in-person rehearsals have been suspended unfortunately since mid March,” said Yau. “But that doesn’t stop us from singing. Two weeks ago, we started our Zoom rehearsals. 90 percent of members have been there, making music online.”
At a time when people are being instructed to stay home, Yau says the virtual choir project provides a safe space for people interested in participating in a choral group.
“People can join us from around the world and sing songs that embrace the true values of diversity, inclusion, acceptance and belonging,” she said. “No harmony can be made with a just a single voice.”