Members of the Pittsburg State University Chorale had the opportunity to collaborate virtually with a group of international singers: the singers of Municipalidad Frutillar in Chile.
Earlier this year, the Chorale, under the direction of Susan Marchant, chair and director of choirs, worked with the Municipalidad Frutillar, a community music school made up of mostly college-aged students, in Frutillar, Chile. The two choirs prepared a setting of the Kyrie from the Catholic Mass by Franz Schubert. The endeavor culminated in a virtual choir performance utilizing individual audio and video tracks synced together to form a final video.
“Trying to create a performance that is satisfying musically without being able to bend the rhythm at all was a challenge,” Marchant said. “Within that very strict rhythmic control to make the music as interesting as we can make it… Some pieces just wouldn’t even be good candidates for this kind of a treatment, but we felt that this piece would, and I think you will agree if you watch it.”
During the process, the two choirs held a Zoom meeting to get to know one another better. Once all the singers were prepared, each voice was recorded. MP3 files were made for each individual singer, 38 were recorded in total. Each track was lined up by technicians in perfect timing to create the video. Each singer from PSU recorded tracks individually with assistance from Marchant.
“I’m fascinated about the process of mixing and achieving the right kind of balance,” Marchant said. “Just to coordinate a few tracks is really a lot of work, I have a great appreciation for how long it took and how much work was involved in putting that together. I have a newfound respect for people who do this kind of work.”
Susan Marchant said her favorite part was getting to know the director in Chile, Maxiel Marchant. They’re shared last name is a coincidence and became something of a running joke between the two directors.
“She was responding to some information about scholarships she had received from PSU, and she sent a note saying she was interested in pursuing information about music scholarships, and she signed it, and from that point on it was just hilarious,” Susan said.
Joseph Barnes, sophomore in music education, participated in the choir collaboration last year.
“My favorite part of working with the choir would be to get that experience of singing with people outside of your area,” Barnes said. “I think it was very enlightening and very interesting to see that music kind of transcends language barriers in all forms. It was a very fun experience, very enlightening, and very educational.”
The video can be watched online (youtube.com) at the Municipalidad Frutillar YouTube channel.