Eric Whitacre is one of the most well known, performed, and awarded choral composers in the modern day choral scene. Eric was born on January 2, 1970 in Reno, Nevada, dabbling in piano lessons as a child and later, in junior high, joining marching band, and playing synthesizer in a techno-pop band. Believe it or not, Eric dreamt of becoming a rock star. (Bowen) Although he is not among the likes of Metallica or The Beatles, Eric has won a Grammy for Best Choral Performance for his album "Light and Gold" in the past year, as well as a nomination in 2007 for "Cloudburst and Other Choral Works". He is the youngest recipient ever of the Raymond C Brock Commission given by the American Choral Directors Association, awarded in 2001, as well as numerous other awards from the ACDA, the Barlow international composition competition, and American Composers' Forum. (Official Website Biography) Although Whitacre is known for his choral works, he also writes and composes for wind ensembles, full orchestras, a full musical titled "Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings", as well as pieces for solo voice and supporting instrumentals. The most known piece that Eric has composed is the acapella choral piece titled "Sleep".
"Sleep" is a SATB choral piece. The story behind this haunting song is that Julia Armstrong, a lawyer and professional mezzo-soprano from Texas, wanted commision Whitacre to compose a choral that would be performed by the Austin ProChorus, where she was an avid member of the choir. She wanted the piece to be a memorial of her beloved parents, who died within weeks of each other after fifty years of marriage. She wanted the piece to use the poem by Robert Frost, called Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening. Whitacre agreed to take on her request and was deeply moved by her story. Unfortunately, after a careful composition by Whitacre and a breathtaking performance of the piece by the Austin ProChorus, Robert Frost's estate forbid Whitacre from using the poem in any...
Cited: Bowen, Meurig. "Whitacre: Offical Biography." Web article. (2006): n. page. Web. .
"Official Biography." Official Website. n. page. Web.
Whitacre, Eric. "The Story Behind Sleep". Official Website. Web Article.
(The song can be heard on this link)
Shrock, Dennis (Mar 2009). Choral Repertoire. Oxford University Press (USA). p. 761. ISBN 978-0-19-532778-6.
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