Acadia University Singers research virtual choirs in the age of COVID-19

Article from University Affairs

When the world went into lockdown mid-March last year, members of the Acadia University Singers couldn’t do what they normally would do to process difficult emotions: sing together.

Like many musical groups, they turned to rehearsing and performing online, says Michelle Boyd, an instructor of musicology at Acadia, at the start of the documentary Isolated Bodies, United Voices: Virtual Choir in the Ages of COVID-19. For choir singers, this is a challenge – you never hear your voice blending with your peers while singing and can only hear the full choir retroactively. It can be time consuming, labour intensive and lonely, she adds.

But COVID-19 has “proven that musicians are a determined lot, and that humanity needs music,” Dr. Boyd said.

The documentary, posted online on June 12, is the culmination of a research project spearheaded by Dr. Boyd and the Acadia University Singers. They embarked on the Isolated Bodies, United Voices project in June 2020 and met regularly throughout the summer to rehearse and record four choral songs online.

Dr. Boyd said the purpose of the project was to better understand the process and experience of choosing virtual choir. What aspects of musicianship can be developed through the virtual choir process? What new skills, ideas or approaches can be gained?

You can watch the documentary, discover Dr. Boyd and the Acadia University Singers’ learnings and hear them in virtual song below:

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