This quote comes to us from the well-followed and much-liked Twitter account of epic choral composer Eric Whitacre. If you’ve ever wondered why singing is unlike just about any other activity in the universe, try this on for size:
I believe now more than ever that singing is a universal, built-in mechanism designed to cultivate empathy and compassion.
— Eric Whitacre (@EricWhitacre) July 17, 2016
Whitacre’s activities in the music world reflect this mindset, of course, with his almost universally accessible style (without much compositional compromise, thank goodness) and inclusive projects like his Virtual Choir on YouTube. If anything can make a difference, making singing a global, normal, yet transcendent activity sure has a shot.
“I believe now more than ever that singing is a universal, built-in mechanism designed to cultivate empathy and compassion.”
— Eric Whitacre
Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others by Stacy Horn
This book was written soon after 9/11 but published in 2013, and chronicles the life of a journalist-turned-chorister whose life is changed not only by the changing world around her, but the simple act of showing up for rehearsal and performing regularly with a group. Alternating historical accounts of music presentation, scientific information about the physiological and emotional effects of choral singing, bits of personal memoir and profoundly emotional descriptions of what it’s like for a layperson to learn and master classical masterworks, Horn has created a crystalline look at what harmony does to and for us. As professionals, we may take that effect for granted, but we would do well to study it, embrace, and share it with as many people as we can.
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