OK, COVID hasn’t been kind. But when one door closes, another opens! During the last number of months, the Musical Esther [Update: now Who is Esther] team has been hard at work on a virtual choir project… Sing with Esther. Since we couldn’t workshop the music directly, we thought we’d take a stab at crowdsourcing the music, through the choir world, and getting feedback, hopefully from thousands.
Part of the effort has been technical. We are now putting together the website that would house all of the information – from sheet music, to guide tracks, and other resources. We had to write all of the emails and website copy, and figure out how we were going to collect the video files that all of the singers (and choirs) would send us. We had to figure out an easy feedback mechanism to remove friction from the feedback process. And we had to reach out to a number of choirs and singers, to ask them what would make them want to participate, then embed this in the website.
Probably the most challenging was the decision of what song (of the 21) to showcase. We made the decision to do two of them: Corner Block, which is the first song in the musical – a ballad, with a funk-hip bridge, and the Finale, which is a multi-layered mash-up of key songs from the musical, and is a bit more challenging. Having two songs means that anyone considering joining would have a choice: they could sing either, or they could sing both.
I also made the choice to have another team member (or rather team members) take the lead on the actual arrangement. The talented Robby Burko and Jeremy Burko (yes, they are brothers) did the arrangements, one song each. Interestingly, as I am re-orchestrating the musical from the latest revision, I have embedded some of the musical counterpoints and phrasing back into the musical’s score.
We also made the decision to offer two versions of Sing with Esther. Individual singers can join, and we will create our own global virtual choir. But we also have a special Sing with Esther program in the works for choirs. Any choir director can join, and have complete access to all of the music for their repertoire, as well as all of the support tools, at not cost; we only ask that they send us a video of their choir singing the music, as well as comments on the music itself.