Eric Whitacre (b. 2 January 1970, Reno, Nev.) is an American composer, conductor and lecturer.
Mr. Whitacre's first musical experience was singing were in his college choir. Though he was unable to read music at the time, Whitacre began his full musical education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, eventually taking a bachelor's degree in music composition. He wrote his first concert work, Go, Lovely, Rose, at the age of 21. Eric went on to the Juilliard School, earning his Master of Music degree and studying with John Corigliano and David Diamond. At the age of 23 he completed his first piece for wind orchestra, Ghost Train, and his popular wind piece Godzilla Eats Las Vegas stems from this period. He graduated in 1997 and moved to Los Angeles to become a full-time professional composer.
Whitacre's first album as both composer and conductor, Light & Gold, won a Grammy Award in 2012, and became the No. 1 classical album in the U.S. and UK charts. His second album, Water Night, featured performances from his professional choir, the Eric Whitacre Singers, the London Symphony Orchestra, Julian Lloyd Webber, and Hila Plitmann.
Many of Whitacre's works have entered the standard choral and symphonic repertories. His works Water Night, Cloudburst, Sleep, Lux Aurumque and A Boy and a Girl are among the most popular choral works of the last decade, and his Ghost Train, Godzilla Eats Las Vegas, and October have achieved success in the symphonic wind community. As a conductor, Whitacre has appeared with hundreds of professional and educational ensembles throughout the world. He has conducted concerts of his choral and symphonic music in Japan, Australia, China, Singapore, South America and much of Europe, as well as dozens of American universities and colleges. Online, Whitacre's massed choral music has reached a worldwide audience. Whitacre's 2007 musical Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings, combining trance, ambient and techno electronica with choral, cinematic, and operatic traditions, won the ASCAP Harold Arlen award and the Richard Rodgers Award for most promising musical theater composer.
Whitacre's virtual choir projects began in 2009 with Sleep and Lux Aurumque. In virtual choirs, singers record and upload their individual videos from all over the world. The videos are then synchronized and combined into one single performance to create the virtual choir. Though 2020, six virtual choirs have been formed, the last featuring more than 17,000 singers.
Deep Field: The Impossible Magnitude of the Universe is a 2018 audiovisual collaboration between Whitacre, NASA, the Space Telescope Science Institute, Music Productions and 59 Productions. The soundtrack for the film, inspired by the Hubble Space Telescope and its pioneering deep field image, features the Virtual Choir 5, representing 120 countries: more than 8,000 voices aged four to 87, alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Eric Whitacre Singers.
Whitacre has won awards from the Barlow international composition competition, American Choral Directors Association, American Composers Forum and in 2001 became the recipient of The Raymond W. Brock Commission given by the American Choral Directors Association. The album Cloudburst and Other Choral Works received a Grammy nomination in 2007 for Best Choral Performance. Later, his album Light & Gold won a Grammy for Best Choral Performance in 2012.
Whitacre is a founding member of BCM International, a quartet of composers consisting of himself, Steven Bryant, Jonathan Newman and James Bonney, which aspires to "enrich the wind ensemble repertoire with music unbound by traditional thought or idiomatic cliché." He is married to the soprano Hila Plitmann.
Works for Winds
- Cloudburst (1991/ tr. 2001)
- Deep Field (2015/2016)
- Equus (2000)
- Fly to Paradise
- Ghost Train (1995)
- Godzilla Eats Las Vegas (1996)
- Goodnight Moon
- Lux Aurumque (2005)
- Noisy Wheels of Joy (2002)
- October (2000)
- October (arr. Miller) (2000)
- October (arr. Ritz & Sullivan) (2000/2005)
- The Seal Lullaby (2011)
- Sleep (2000)
- Sleep (arr. Nowlin) (2000/2016)
- Sleep, My Child (arr. Gershman) (2013)
- Star-Spangled Banner (as arranger) (1814/2018)
- Boyer, Joshua R. "Sleep, My Child." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 446-452. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.
- Camphouse, Mark, editor. (2004) Composers on Composing for Band. Volume 2. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 253–268.
- Eric Whitacre website
- Eric Whitacre, Wikipedia Accessed 13 September 2017
- Snyder, Courtney. "Seal Lullaby." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 262-268. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.
- Stewart, Scott A. "Lux Aurumque." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 6, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 383-387. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2007.