ECHHS Choral Students Present Virtual Performance
To experience the magic, a virtual choral performance by high school students must be heard and seen, but here is a prologue in print. In early May, two dozen choral students from East Chapel Hill High School (ECHHS) recorded their first virtual piece, "Hope Lingers On," and the video has already been viewed hundreds of times. “If ever a choir director were going to attempt a Virtual Choir, now would be the time, right?” Desiree Davis-Omburo asked. “So, why not?”
Davis-Omburo teaches all three choral music classes at ECHHS, in addition to AP Music Theory. “I extended the invitation to my entire choral department in an effort to be very inclusive, so this is a combination of all three groups,” Davis-Omburo said. “Our goal with this first attempt was not so much perfection as it was connection. I wanted the students to reconnect as a community.”
“This was 100% optional, and most students opted to not participate, which I found very interesting,” Davis-Omburo said. “In a way, I can understand. It can be a little intimidating to submit a solo recording of yourself, so that's probably part of what hindered a greater participation rate!”
Davis-Omburo said she was aware of an interest in experimenting with virtual performing from some of her students, and it was their momentum that led their director forward. “In general, choir directors tend to be less enthusiastic about virtual choirs,” she said, “because they just naturally prefer Choir face to face for obvious reasons, but it's important to keep an open mind and try new things.”
“Hope Lingers On” was a piece scheduled for the ECHHS Spring Choral Concert. “It was already in my students' choir folders and just coincidentally worked well as a message of hope during this pandemic and quarantine,” Davis-Omburo said.
“The students had practice tracks that I uploaded in Google classroom and instructions for how to make a video recording of themselves, individually, to submit. I reviewed their submissions and either had them redo them or, accepted them as is,” Davis-Omburo said.
The final contributor to the magic was Jim Baxley, father of choral students, Ben and Jay, and by Davis-Omburo’s description, “Our AMAZING parent volunteer who did all the hard work and hard technical aspects (editing) behind this project.”
Jim Baxley said, "It is amazing to see what these singers, under the direction of Ms. Davis-Omburo, are capable of; they bring so much talent and emotion to their recordings. It is a great reminder of how music can bring together a community, even when we are physically distancing."