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On a high note

‘Amazing Grace’ by Judy Collins is one of the most popular hymns around the world, and has often been a source of comfort during unprecedented times. And the American singer songwriter recently put together a Global Virtual Choir featuring select choirs from around the world to raise money with a charity single in aid of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Solidarity Response Fund. The choir went on to come out with a new soulful rendition of the iconic ‘Amazing Grace’, which turns 50 this year. Among the choirs selected be a part of the project, which was released on May 29, 2020 and has since gone viral, was the Goa University Choir, the only choir chosen from India.

“A few weeks ago we received an invitation from Judy Collins to join her project and sing together with a few other choirs from the around world which include choirs like The Sixteen (UK), Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa, and the New York Choral Society. Our Goa University Choir was very happy to receive such an honourable invitation,” said GUC’s conductor Santiago Lusardi Girelli, adding that it gave them a rare opportunity to connect with singers and musicians from all over the world.

“For this project, we learned a choral version in different voices to support Judy’s voice harmonically and melodically. Our choir is the only Indian choir to be chosen, and one of two out of Asia,” said Girelli.

Each of the GU choir singers recorded their own voices and videos online at their homes and every person is featured on the released recording together with their names.

And Girelli believes that this project has helped place the choir on the international music arena given that it was released worldwide by Warner Music, and sees them singing along with one of the most legendary singers in the US – Judy Collins. Apart from this international artistes like Ringo Starr of The Beatles are involved in supporting this initiative.

All proceeds raised from this single will be going to the World Health Organisation Solidarity Response Fund.

“This Amazing Grace Global Virtual Choir Project is basically about coexistence and collaboration through music to face the difficult times that the world is going through, and requires voices from across the world to rise up, sing and represent each nation, race and religion. The thought of helping to raise funds to tackle this world crisis and to create a bridge with our voices, definitely helped us to make this version even more amazing,” said Girelli. “If you listen to the final version, with Judy´s voice and the choirs supporting her, you can definitely believe that unity within all of humanity can happen, and music can pave the way.”

And Collins admits that she was blown away by the final outcome. “They just take off in that third verse and reach the heavens – phenomenal. Of course, this was done independently with many people from many different parts of the world, singing their ideas of what the harmonies should be. I think it’s magnificent. To me, it’s the incarnation for now of what this song has to sound like,” she said. “I believe this timeless song can be healing for people to listen and sing along with. Stay safe, help others and pray for the planet. I am sending this song out to all the doctors, nurses and patients. We will survive this unprecedented time with love, music and amazing grace.”

The song can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon and online streaming platforms like Spotify, Google Music, etc. It is also available on social media.

And this is just the first of a series of activities that the Western Music Chair and the GU choir has planned during this lockdown. “We have started online singing sessions and will be offering an online concert with a chamber choir ensemble, plus we are preparing three more virtual choirs in collaboration with different artists from India and Europe,” said Girelli, VRPP  (Visiting Research Professors Programme) for Western Music Chair at the Goa University.

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