The COVID-19 pandemic has been the mother of invention in all sorts of ways.
For example, the non-profit Miami Children’s Chorus had to cancel two concerts. So like so many other organizations, it turned to the virtual world to create something from nothing. Production engineer Rodrigo Cardenas, whose daughter is part of the chorus, is assembling a tapestry of video and sound to create a virtual concert.
He’s blending the voices of more than 300 kids from all over Miami-Dade County.
“The beauty of it is that it doesn’t matter what schools they come from, what neighborhoods the come from, everyone comes together to make music,” said Liana Salinas, the artistic director and an alumna of Miami Children’s Chorus.
Technically, it’s amazing that so many voices can be melded together and sonically, it’s even more impressive, considering the fact that all the rehearsals were done remotely.
“Running a virtual choir is difficult, we have weekly rehearsals with six different choirs and in the rehearsals we can’t actually hear the students, so the teachers are basically anticipating what they think the choristers will sound like,” Salinas explained.
They can’t meet and sing in person, they can’t have a traditional concert, so they’re creating 10 songs by having each student sing a part on their own, then they send them to Cardenas, who puts them together using advanced audio and video editing technology.
“Lots of communication, virtual communication, we’re all learning new skills and learning from each other and growing but it definitely has been a challenge and we’re happy and proud of the outcome,” said Analy Mendez, the group’s executive director and also an alumna.
The outcome is magic. Picture 28 students on the screen at once, singing in perfect harmony. It’s especially gratifying for those who had the vision to create it. Salinas burst into tears when she saw the first cut.
“I mean you saw my reaction, I was very emotional, it was the first time we’ve gotten to see and hear the choristers together,” Salinas said.
"It is definitely very emotional, I feel a great sense of pride and joy,” added Mendez.
When they’re finished, there will be 10 songs, featuring different ensembles from the group.
The kids haven’t yet seen or heard what they all sound like together. They won’t get to share a stage this year, but they will share a screen.