Radiolab Conducts the Choral Color Experiment

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When WNYC's science-and-wonder show Radiolab was working on a program about colors, it needed an aural representation of the rainbow.

The idea was to translate colors − from orange and green to insanely red and super-duper ultraviolet − into harmony, so Radiolab host Jad Abumrad and technical director Dylan Keefe called on Q2 Music to help round up some New York City choristers. Q2 Music then called on John Maclay, conductor of the Grace Church Choral Society, to put the word out for 20-30 volunteers.

Many more than that turned out, including from the Young New Yorkers' Chorus, the Collegiate Chorale and the Dessoff Choirs, for an evening that ultimately ended with a terribly catchy “mantis shrimp” version of the Hallelujah chorus.

“This is just a crazy audio metaphor we’re trying out,” says Abumrad.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how it came together: