TCU vocal ensembles premiere student composition in virtual performance


In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70 of the talented singers in two TCU School of Music ensembles will come together—virtually—this Sunday evening to premiere a new choral composition by Honors student Patrick Vu. The TCU Concert Chorale and University Singers will perform “Day is Dying”, a piece that Vu hopes will instill a sense of optimism and faith in viewers.

Junior Patrick Vu composed “Day is Dying”, a choral piece that he hopes will instill a sense of optimism and faith in audiences.

“The message that lies at the heart [of the piece] is one of hope and trust,” said Vu. “I think it is relevant during this time because everything is just so uncertain.”

Dr. Christopher Aspaas, director of choral activities, said the performance was recorded remotely in advance with each singer receiving the scores in a PDF as well as part-specific recordings and a click track, which helps synchronize sound recordings.

“While most virtual choirs use a conductor video, we decided it would be simpler and more efficient to do it our way,” said Aspaas.

Though technologies like Zoom and Skype make it easy for people to connect while social distancing, they aren’t ideal for musical rehearsals or virtual performances—especially when the singers are living all around the country.

“There is no way to synchronize sound production between sources,” said Aspaas. “We walked [the singers] through specifics in the score and then let them work on their own to produce the final product.”

Audio of the singers’ performances were mastered, mixed and merged using audio editing software; the final cut was combined in iMovie with photos of the students to create the performance viewers will see on Sunday.

Vu, a junior who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in composition and in vocal music education, said it is an interesting experience to have work premiered virtually instead of in person.

“It is really incredible to see how technology can still bring [us] together in song even when the singers are spread out around the country,” said Vu. “What makes this special is the fact that people from around the country and beyond can ‘attend’ this premiere since it is going to stream online.”

“Day is Dying” will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 26 on the TCU School of Music YouTube page. The Frog Corps ensemble is also working on a similar project that will premiere next week. For more information, follow the TCU School of Music Facebook page.