Ballarat musicians Geoffrey and George Williams are behind the Virtual Soul Choir. Pic: supplied.

Music, News & Commentary

Virtual Soul Choir brings musical connection to social isolation

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With live, loud, bodies-pressed-up-against-each-other concerts off the table for the foreseeable future, musicians are offering up new ways to use music to connect. With everything from symphony orchestras live-streaming performances to festivals streamed direct from living rooms, the offerings have been broad. Now, married musical duo Georgina and Geoffrey Williams are stepping up to the plate, with a musical project that embraces community singing.

Searching for a way to connect with their respective choirs during social distancing – Georgina’s in Ballarat and Geoffrey’s in Melbourne – the pair got to thinking. How could they create a sense of unity through a screen?

The result is the Virtual Soul Choir: a collaborative video project resulting in an original song and video clip made up of submissions from around the world.

Centred around upbeat track Ray of Sunshine, participants are encouraged to choose a specific section of the tune to perform and record.

“It’s something we can offer to people to connect . . . and fulfill the feeling we get when we see each other and sing together as a group,” Georgina says.

“With doing a [traditional choir rehearsal] online, there’s so much lag. Even a millisecond of lag means you can’t sing in time together. We wanted to offer something to people to connect, and bring joy into their lives when there’s so much going on.”

Working with the friends at independent film company Wind & Sky Productions, audio-visual clips from participants will be mixed down into an audio track and video, capturing individual “moments of sunshine” in isolation, and leaving participants with a fully-realised music video at the end of the experience.

While aiming for professional quality, the Williams say the most important thing is simply engaging in a healthy dose of fun.

“We’re not trying to do the best, most perfect thing,” says Geoffrey. “[We want it] to be enjoyed while people are limited in their movements.”

Inspired in part by the well-known social singing group the Pub Choir (now known as the Couch Choir), Geoffrey says the power of projects such as this is creating authentically shared experience.

“Already, the people we’re connected to [in the music industry] have been so excited. It’s something to do, but it’s also something meaningful to do, and gives a communal creative focus.

It’s something we can offer to people to connect . . . and fulfil the feeling we get when we see each other and sing together as a group,”

“Even if you’re not in the same room, you know there are other people involved in the same project, you know it will come together.”

At the time of our interview 130 people had signed up, with submissions open until May 3, or 1200 entries (after which point, Geoffrey says there’s a risk of “heads exploding” during the editing process).

For those not too confident in their singing abilities, visual creativity is also possible, but singers of all skills levels are encouraged to take the plunge.

“Our main hope is that it will bring joy to people, and just to be a really lovely thing in peoples’ lives at the moment,” says Georgina. “It came up as a response to literally having the capacity to get together one week and then the next week suddenly not . . . but immediately we saw the opportunity for bringing communities from around the world together.”

Geoffrey keeps it simple.

“Join us, it’ll be great.”

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