On The Beach At Night Alone

I’m happy to see that my colleagues in the choral community are still able to make music happen despite all the necessary restrictions caused by Covid-19. Many of us have listened to the town hall meetings with choral leaders and medical experts and while there is a fair bit of nuance to tease out, a 1-2 year moratorium on singing together for the vast majority of us seems to be the order of the day.


In response to this, instead of wallowing in doom and gloom, the choral community has redoubled its efforts. Virtual choir projects are popping up all over the internet; instead of singers gathering in a space to sing together, they sing their parts into a digital device before they are assembled into a cohesive whole for performance. I’m really happy to finally be playing my part: I just finished writing a setting of the Walt Whitman poem, On The Beach At Night Alone, commissioned by The Vox Humana Chamber Choira choral piece written specifically for Virtual Choir.


I wrote the piece so that it highlights the strengths of Virtual Choir and glosses over some of the disadvantages. The biggest one being, and a glaringly obvious one, the difficulty in singing together as a cohesive whole. You’re not standing next to your fellow singers so you can’t quite match vowels and pitches without some cumbersome interference, not to mention the fact that you can’t make the micro adjustments to your pulse and rhythm necessary to staying together timing-wise. So I wrote a piece that allowed for the vast majority of the choral parts to be sung independently – whether they be a hundred voices, or a thousand.

That’s not all that makes this project unique and timely during this period of isolation from one another. You see, there is going to be a call for participation from the world wide artistic community. Singers from all over the world will soon be invited to participate by lending their voices, and the wider artistic community will be called on to submit snapshots and video of life under Covid-19.

I’m really excited about this project coming together. More news is coming – notably the portal on the Vox Humana webpage that allows you to participate!

See (And hear you, I hope) soon!