Eric Whitacre, Choral Composer of Global Ambitions

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

On this weekend's Choral Mix, we are delighted to welcome choral music sensation Eric Whitacre here for a conversation with Kent Tritle. A native of Nevada, the charismatic composer and conductor has built a global audience through his many recordings, robust Internet presence and crowd-sourced virtual choir projects.

Woven into our interview are settings of Whitacre's music as well as pieces he has been drawn to throughout his career as a composer.

We start off the show with a quintessential American work, Thompson's Alleluia and juxtapose that with Whitacre's Alleluia, from his new album "Water Night." We continue the theme of comparative texts with Whitacre's setting of When David Heard that Absolam was slain, followed by a setting of the same text by Thomas Thomkins, the great English Renaissance composer.

Now based in London, Whitacre has had great success in the UK. We explore some of the major differences between American and British choirs and listen to recordings of his works performed by groups on both sides of the pond. 

We also listen to Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque and This Marriage, and conclude with a recording of Whitacre's Little Birds performed by the Brigham Young University Choir.  Whitacre's music has a broad appeal, a fact that has endeared him to many high school and college choirs.

Join in the discussion:  What are your favorite Eric Whitacre compositions, and can you tell which pieces were sung by British or American choirs?



Whitacre/Alleluia/ The Eric Whitacre Singers, Eric Whitacre      


Thompson/Alleluia/The Kansas City Chorale/Charles Bruffy


Whitacre/ When David Heard that Absolam was slain / Water Night/ The Eric Whitacre Singers

When David Heard that Absolam was slain


Thomkins/ The Cambridge Singers/ John Rutter

When David Heard that Absolam was slain


Whitacre/This Marriage/Polyphony /Layton

This Marriage


Whitacre/ Lux Aurumque/ Polyphony /Layton

Lux Aurumque


Whitacre/ Little Birds/Brighman Young University Singers/Eric Whitacre

Little Birds

Comments [7]

david from OKC, OK

Forgot to mention that tenor in question was getting his degree in conducting, and conducted the piece Eric composed for his parents' marriage!

Jun. 11 2012 09:38 PM

Sorry -- I meant GARY, not David!

Jun. 11 2012 02:39 PM
DiAnn from NYC

David, you're so right -- what a pleasure it is to hear modern music that actually has a melody! Kent, thanks for inviting Eric Whitacre on your program. This was a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience!

Jun. 11 2012 09:31 AM
david dunkle from OKC, OK

I heard "This Marriage" a couple years ago in Norman, OK in the Gothic Hall, with the Fisk organ, and 4 sec. acoustic.
There was a senior tenor in the choir who was the son of the parents for whom this piece was written.
Small world, isn't it?
Too bad "Sleep" wasn't included on this program. Utterly fantastic piece, on another imagined level of choral writing. Words and music correspond in an utterly cosmic way, or so it seems to me.

Jun. 10 2012 09:24 PM


Jun. 10 2012 07:45 AM


Jun. 10 2012 07:28 AM
Gary Ekman from Manhattan/NYC

I'm usually not that enamored of "modern" choral music, but Eric Whitacre's music is absolutely beautiful. Probably because what I've heard so far is not that atonal or discordant. This really opened my eyes.

Jun. 10 2012 07:11 AM

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