School of Music Freshman Music Ed Major Creates Virtual Choir

Caitlin Flemm, a freshman Music Education major in the University of Kentucky School of Music and Rob Vanover, who received his Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from the University of Kentucky in 2002 are great examples of CFA #creativetypes who are finding ways to stay creative while remaining #healthyathome during these challenging times.

“Nearly as soon as the outbreak began to have its effects here in the United States, Caitlin reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to help her put together a virtual choir,” said Vanover, who is currently Director of Choirs at Lexington Catholic High School.  “I am very proud of Caitlin, who is a former choir student of mine at Lexington Catholic.”

Caitlin drew inspiration from contemporary choral composer Eric Whitacre, who started a global phenomenon creating multiple virtual choirs that has been embraced by musicians throughout the choral music world. The final video is of the gospel hymn “Unclouded Day” written by Josiah Kelley Alwood with modern arrangement for SATB choir by Shawn Kirchner. It features students from the UK School of Music and the Lexington Catholic High School Chamber Choir.

“Once I learned that schools were being shut down due to this global pandemic, the first thing that came to mind was that I didn't know when I would be able to sing in an ensemble again.” Caitlin asked for volunteers on social media and compiled over thirty video submissions using GarageBand and iMovie. “I made sure each virtual choir member's bright, shining face was featured in the video.”

"The song speaks of the hope of a better life beyond this one,” says Vanover, “In my class, and among the participants who sang in this video, we discussed the extension of this theme to our current crisis, to the knowledge that these trials are but temporary, that we will get through them, and that singing is the single greatest vehicle to get us there. Caitlin was able to find a way to allow all of us to be a choir, even as we were trapped at home.”

Looking ahead to happier times, Caitlin reflected. “Although the poet who wrote this was talking about living a better life after this one, we can also apply this to ourselves as we are looking forward to returning to happier and safer times,” says Ms. Flemm. “Though the future is uncertain, the one thing I am sure of is that the world needs more creative outlets, not only to cope with what is currently happening, but also to spread joy, virtually, to others.”

Watch the full video here.