Even during a time of mandatory separation, music has the power to bring people together. Amid the distancing and loneliness that COVID-19 has thrust upon us, music lovers from around the world are finding hope and comfort in amazing music video collaborations.
10 We Are the World
More than 70 members of the Long Island music scene united to create “We Are the World 2020 — The Quarantine Mix, Long Island.” They joined forces “to bring a little hope and healing to New York and the world during this COVID-19 crisis that impacts us all.”
All of the musicians worked virtually from the safety of their own homes to record and video their individual parts on home studio gear or smartphones and then sent their parts to be edited into the finished piece. Sit back and enjoy.
9 What the World Needs Now Is Love
Students from Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music delivered an inspiring virtual performance to bring their community together, performing “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
Shelbie Rassler, a senior composition major at Boston Conservatory, coordinated the project from her home in South Florida. She recruited performers with a simple Facebook announcement:
“Your job is to just take a video of yourself singing (literally, pick any part/the whole song/just 10 second/riff to the gods/up to you!!), playing your instrument along to the track, choreographing a dance to the music, or anything your heart desires. I’ll cut everything up, create an arrangement from what y’all send me, and share it with you because WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE SWEET LOVE, Y’ALL. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN.”
A pianist friend played the accordion, while a percussionist who didn’t have access to his instruments improvised with rice in a salt shaker.
“While we’re in quarantine or whatever everyone is dealing with during these scary and uncertain times,” Rassler told NPR, “we can still do the things we love from our home and we can still collaborate and reach out to our friends and be in touch with our friends and create art together.”
Bacharach himself responded to the video, telling NPR he “felt very proud and honored to see and hear my song performed by these extremely talented students from the Berklee School of Music. It’s great seeing them find ways to be creative and stay connected to each other while maintaining social distance.”
8 Close to You
Last month, the Pub Choir “asked the internet to stop misery-scrolling for a moment and to sing with us!” In just two days, more than 1,000 people from 18 countries submitted video performances of The Carpenters’ “Close to You.” Every submission that was successfully received was manually added to the collective. The result is a magical “Couch Choir” performance.
“We can’t adequately express in words what a gift your videos were to us,” Pub Choir wrote. “Each was like unwrapping a beautiful, personal, virtual hug. Thanks for trusting us with your voices and for sharing your lives with us for a few minutes.”
7 Here Comes the Sun
Camden Voices is a collective of talented musicians at the leading edge of contemporary ensemble singing. The 30-piece choir comprises passionate singers, instrumentalists, and educators from across London who are unified by their shared love of music.
In this self-isolation virtual choir cover, Camden Voices is bringing the sunshine indoors. “So awesome!” said one commenter. “The virus is like the cold winter. Sun comes from a human voice made out of devotion and training. Totally inspiring. Keep doing it. Peace & Blessings.”
6 You’ve Got a Friend
“From all over the world, in these most challenging times, the cast of ‘Beautiful’ wants you to know that ‘You’ve Got a Friend.’” The worldwide cast, in quarantine, recorded this compilation for The Actors Fund. It’s a touching arrangement that features the actors doing what they do best, but doing it from the safety of home.
One viewer commented: “OMG, this is so uplifting! I wish everyone around the world could stay joined in caring…that these precious moments would live on after the pandemic. Blessings of health and safety to our world.”
5 Hope for the Future
In a spectacular collaboration, 32 trumpet stars filmed and recorded themselves in isolation on a new inspirational song written by Matt Catingub. The video is a “tribute to the frontline heroes around the globe: our healthcare workers dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Each player is identified by name and country flag. It’s an impressive collection of talent.
“Representing 14 different countries, classical soloists, jazz artists, military personnel, educators, and rock stars from the Dave Matthews Band and Chicago, ‘A Hope for the Future’ is dedicated to all those around the world who care for us during this time of crisis and beyond.”
“Hope for the Future” was inspired by celebrated trumpet player Ryan Anthony, who is sequestered in the hospital and battling cancer. He is one of the musicians featured in this special performance.
4 Over the Rainbow
When their annual choir concert was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, these Chino Valley Unified School District students performed their acapella cover of “Over the Rainbow” virtually instead.
Reactions were positive and supportive. Fans expressed a desire for more music like this and fewer contrived performances by celebrities.
“MUCH better and more beautiful and authentic than the celebrity ‘Imagine,” said one fan. “Would love to hear more from these young guys and gals. That was lovely and uplifting and hopeful!!!”
3 What a Wonderful World
Fans felt the same way about a video posted by John Foreman’s Aussie Pops (Isolation) Orchestra. “This made me feel hopeful,” remarked one viewer. “A stark contrast to the cringe I felt watching those tone-deaf celebrities singing ‘Imagine’ in their mansions. Thank you.”
The video begins with the caption, “The Aussie Pops Orchestra has never ‘phoned it in’ … until now.” The talented Australian artists then deliver a beautiful rendition of “What a Wonderful World.” Foreman shared his vision for a return to normalcy. “Please stay safe. And when this current crisis is over, arts communities everywhere will be looking for your face in the audience! We hope it’s not too long before we can experience live music, together in the same room.”
New York City has suffered tremendously from the pandemic. Members of the New York Philharmonic are doing their part by staying home in an effort to assist the first responders, nurses, and doctors who are unable to do so.
This rousing video is accompanied by a caption that reads, “The musicians of the New York Philharmonic dedicate this performance of Ravel’s ‘Boléro’ to the healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. #ClapBecauseYouCare”
One viewer found the song to be especially fitting: “Bolero is metaphorical of getting out of quarantine–first few steps out by a timid human soul and slowly all the footsteps growing until thousands take over the streets again.”
The honorees are grateful for their efforts. “I have been a registered nurse in New York City for these past 35 years,” wrote Miles Clifford. “The past month has been insurmountably difficult for all of the healthcare team (but not as difficult as it has been for many of the poor souls for whom we are caring). A tribute such as this brings joy to my heart which, presently, aches for the world.”
1 Lux Aurumque
In this captivating video compilation, Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre delivers a groundbreaking virtual performance of “Lux Aurumque.” Whitacre’s choral composition is a Christmas piece based on a Latin poem, which translates to “Light, warm and heavy as pure gold, and the angels sing softly to the newborn babe.”
Whitacre created a downloadable score and track of himself conducting, then added the thousands of contributed videos into the collaborative virtual choir. The video features 243 tracks recorded by 185 singers from 12 countries. It is absolutely beautiful.
+ Bridge Over Troubled Waters
The coronavirus outbreak prevented the Voice of Miami children to rehearse in person. “So we decided to send some love out to the virtual world by dusting off an old song that means a lot to us.”
It was the group’s first try at a virtual choir with the song, and it is heartwarming. “Singing in a choir requires active listening, blending, cutting off together, and so much more,” Voice of Miami wrote. “As we approach this new way of making music, we will be challenged to hone our individual skills to maximize our #virtualchoir blend and sound. Nothing can replace making music together in person, but until then, let’s #keepthemusicgoing friends.”
++ Don’t Stand So Close to Me
Sting, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots joined forces to recreate a quarantine remix of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” a fitting song for this era of social distancing. The vocals (Fallon can really sing!) were accompanied by musicians playing “at-home instruments,” including scissors, pot lids, and even Connect 4! It’s a lighthearted performance that promotes a serious cause: Frontline Foods.
“As an ICU nurse, I can tell you the donated food is one of the things that helps me make it through the day,” says one beneficiary. “Not even really about the fact that it’s free (though I definitely appreciate that) but just that it’s there on my unit. I certainly don’t have time during my shifts to make it to the cafeteria, and I’m too exhausted to pack a lunch between shifts.”