With COVID-19 health regulations in place, I Cantori of Walla Walla University, unable to continue meeting in person, meets virtually on Zoom under the direction of Kraig Scott, professor of music.
I Cantori meets three times a week to practice their parts. Jared Sexton, senior physics major, said, “This mostly consists of Dr. Scott leading warm-ups in his house while all the rest of us have our mics muted but warm-up along with him. We then spend the rest of our time working on our parts for a piece of music we hope to record in isolation and then mix together.”
The choir has discovered just how difficult it is to create music together while respecting COVID-19 boundaries. When the choir is together in person, Scott can quickly give feedback on how individual sections sound, however that feedback process is more complicated and less efficient when Scott can only hear one vocalist at a time.
To replace in-person concerts and performances, ICantori has produced three separate virtual choir recordings over the past two quarters. The complicated process begins with Scott recording a solo piano accompaniment. Recordings of individual students singing are then synced to the accompaniment. The process is further complicated by having to upload audio and visuals separately.
During fall quarter, ICantori produced a virtual choir recording of “How Can I Keep From Singing?” arranged by Gwyneth Walker. Scott said, “I chose this piece because of its message: that even during this time of COVID quarantine, especially during this time, our choir still needs to sing and in fact cannot keep from singing. The wonderful student singers of ICantori must sing, COVID or not. There are many reasons for this including the fact that singing makes us feel better; it makes us happier; it exercises our lungs and makes us healthier; it makes us feel less lonely; and singing with others in harmony is one of the greatest musical experiences possible.”
ICantori has also joined the Chamber Choir of Montana State University in a professional virtual choir project with American composer Jocelyn Hagen. This production should be finished by January 2021.
“Dr. Scott is usually a giant ball of positive energy in person,” said Jacob Mayes, sophomore graphic design major. “And he somehow managed to radiate more energy online. I think everyone taking classes online can relate to feeling unmotivated and exhausted, but having Dr. Scott cheer us on and push us to sing our best really helps fight those feelings.”
Members of I Cantori continue to express their gratitude for being part of a group that is devoted to creating and sharing music despite COVID-19 difficulties.
“I Cantori coming together despite the circumstances just goes to show how dedicated the members of ICantori and Dr. Scott are to ministry through music,” said Chloe Donesky, junior double major in music and chemistry. “It is refreshing to be a part of a group who all share the same goal: to make music despite the odds.”
Scott has also expressed his gratitude for having the opportunity to work with the members of ICantori: “Often I have said that I have the best possible job—I get to work with healthy, energetic young people to make beautiful music—what's not to love? These young people have great voices and they are musically talented and intelligent. On top of these musical strengths, during these quarters of COVID quarantine the musicians of ICantori have inspired me with their optimism, their hard work, their care for each other, and their humor!”
For more information about ICantori or to see the recording of “How Can I Keep from Singing” visit wallawalla.edu/icantori.
Posted Dec. 10, 2020