Virtual ‘Corona Choir’ featuring Elon singers performs hit song, “Rise”

Miles Caraballo '22, a music education major from Charlotte, coordinated a performance of Katy Perry's hit "Rise" by more than 70 singers that will premiere on YouTube on Saturday, April 18.

Inspired by the virtual choirs brought together by American composer and conducter Eric Whitacre, Miles Caraballo ’22 has coordinated a premiere performance by the new “Corona Choir,” with the group’s first song streaming on YouTube August 18.

Miles Caraballo ’22

Caraballo, a music education major and music director for the Vital Signs A Cappella group at Elon, recruited fellow Elon singers and friends, who in turn brought others on board to build a virtual choir of 71 singers. Each singer recorded their own audio track, and for the past two weeks, Caraballo has been weaving together more than 100 audio tracks to create a virtual choir performance of his own arrangement of the Katy Perry hit “Rise.”

The recorded performance premiered on April 18:

To build excitement for the performance, Caraballo also released a teaser video:

Today at Elon caught up with Caraballo to find out more about how the project came together.

What inspired you to create the virtual “Corona Choir”?

I’ve always seen virtual choirs done by Eric Whitacre and they have always amazed me. I like the idea of a lot of people singing their individual voice part from their home and not knowing what the bigger picture will sound like until later. I like the anticipation.

How did you recruit the singers and who are they?

The majority of the singers are either members of the Elon a cappella community as well as some of my friends from my high school a cappella group that I started. But, there were a few new faces that I have never seen before and I was pleasantly surprised knowing that there were strangers who wanted in on the action. I’m assuming that they found out through their friends that were also involved in the choir.

There is also something really special about this particular choir and that is that some of these members have never been involved in any type of singing ensemble in their lives. This type of setting is really motivating because a lot of people who like to sing would be intimidated to join a live choir but when it’s just them and their computer screen, it’s much less stressful.

What was the biggest challenge in putting together more than 100 audio tracks from more than 70 singers?

The biggest challenge was probably lining everyone’s audio tracks together so that they’re perfectly in sync. If I didn’t plan ahead and look up some videos I would’ve had a much harder time tackling this project. One thing that really helped was adding four dead beats worth of snaps at the beginning to help me line everything up easier.

Musically, are there elements of this type of “virtual” choir performance that you like?

Musically, I really enjoyed hearing all of the different voice types and colors come together to create this wonderful piece. What I mean by that is everyone has a different sound to their singing voice whether it’s; raspy, smooth, warm, cool, dark, bright, you have the really high voices that just float on top of everything and you have the low voices that are so deep and dark and they are all beautiful and when you put them all together you can hear each individual voice but at the same time you can hear the blend that they have. Listening to the color of the choir change when you add each singer is probably my favorite part.

What are you hoping viewers and listeners take away from watching the performance?

I’m hoping that the viewers will be able to gain that just because we are all stuck in our houses doesn’t mean that we are alone. Everyone else is bored and if you have a project in your head, you should act on it because nothing is impossible when you just ask. I feel like every project has the chance to fail at that first step. Just reach out and you’ll be surprised.

Do you have plans for additional performances?

After I put this together, a couple of the members reached out asking for a round two so there will most likely be another one some point during this quarantine. This last project took about two weeks to throw together so I see another one happening for sure. It would be a cappella of course because that’s what I breathe.