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IWA Choir Doesn't Let Distance Change Their Tune

There are things you see that give you chills, even as you can't conceal your delight. That's what happened for the Incarnate Word Academy community late Friday afternoon on April 3. Choir director Josh Wilson sent an email to the faculty sharing a video of the choir singing "Praised be the Incarnate Word." It was dedicated to Sister Lauren Beck, C.V.I., our school president, and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word who, in Wilson's words, "have been the guiding force of this school through so many years, and many worse trials than this one we are dealing with."

The surprise performance, which you can see above, was the result of much tech researching on Wilson's part. Since IWA launched remote learning on March 23, he had been looking for a way to keep the choir members connected to each other, and also offer the school community a performance of some kind, since the spring concert was cancelled. Zoom, which as been one of the go-to programs for IWA faculty and staff during our remote-learning endeavor, wouldn't work for what Wilson had in mind, since it doesn't properly allow for great synchronization of voices.

"I edited it together using a program called Camtasia," he said. "That's really designed for making educational presentations, but it's what I had access to. I recorded guide tracks on Monday for them to sing along with as they recorded themselves. That way all the voices could be relatively in sync, as much as possible." 

He spent most of April 2 and the morning of April 3 editing and rendering the video, before emailing it out that afternoon.

"That just gave me chills," biology teacher Stephen Comer emailed in response to the video. "Thanks, Josh and choir."

He was far from alone in his sentiments.

"That is so cool!" Christine Westman, our science department chair, raved. "Thanks so much."

Choir members were equally enthusiastic about taking part in the spirit-lifting project, even though there were some new things to get used to in the virtual space.

"I had to record my segment quite a number of times, so it was nice to be able to take time to listen to my own voice and find my own mistakes," said Maria Bello '20 about recording the song. "I don’t usually take the time to do that, and work on my technique, but recording a video alone makes your mistakes more visible. So it was actually quite educational. I also got more familiar with how I actually look when I sing. I tend to look vaguely sad when I’m concentrated on singing correctly. So recording it was actually a really great chance to practice singing with a happier face, in order to better convey the meaning of the piece."

"It’s a little odd," explained Claire Sonne '20. "You’re in your own element, but you still have to able to get some singing done, so it took a while to get used to. But I’m extremely happy that even in the face of our crazy times, we can still find hope and love in our singing."

"Not being able to go to choir has been one of the hardest things about distance learning," added Olivia Green '20. "The community that we have been able to foster this year has been really amazing. But, I’m forever grateful for the technology that lets us come together."

She, like Claire, felt it was wonderful to be able to sing together with her fellow choristers, even from a distance. 

"The sound was lovely," she said of the final product, "but being able to see everyone’s faces was the best part."

Maria agrees.

"Everyone’s voices together was really nice. It’s been a while since I’ve seen all those faces singing along together, and it was comforting to have that again."

Wilson is proud of his students' efforts, as is the rest of the IWA community. Email messages filtered in all weekend long, expressing gratitude for the choir, appreciation for Wilson's technical efforts and a joy at being connected. 

"I don't know what to say," wrote Sister Lauren Beck, C.V.I., IWA's president. "This is absolutely beautiful!  I know that I will be playing it over and over again and sharing it with others.  Thank you to you and the choir for such a thoughtful gift."

Sister Lauren promised to show it to her fellow Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, and again expressed her deep gratitude to the entire Falcon Family. 

"I want to say thank you to all of you who have given your all, faculty, staff and students,to keep everything on track and keep up spirits. I think we can all agree we are fortunate to be part of such a great community."