Eric Whitacre is an American Composer and Conductor. He is best known for his innovative recording projects, and for his wind ensemble music.
Whitacre was born on January 2, 1970, in Reno, Nevada. He began experimenting on the piano as a child. When in high school, Whitacre would play in the Douglas High School Band in Minden. He then went to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he studied composition with Virko Baley and conducting with David Weiller. After earning an undergraduate degree in music from the University of Nevada, Whitacre went to the Juilliard School for a Master’s Program. There, he studied with John Corigliano and David Diamond, who was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. In 1993 Whitacre wrote his first Wind Orchestra piece titled “Ghost Train”. The ensemble was so successful that it was recorded over forty times.
In 2008 Whitacre received a video by a young girl named Britlin Losee. The video inspired him to embark upon his highly famous “Virtual Choir” project. “Virtual Choir” integrates and organizes voices from all over the world for special performances. Whitacre’s first Virtual Choir performance was his Wind Symphony “Lux Aurumque”. It featureed one hundred and eighty five singers from over ten countries. His second virtual choir project improved remarkably, it featured over two thousand singers from over fifty eight countries. Whitacre’s third virtual choir project was named “Water Night”, and it was released on the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. He also had a fourth virtual choir project, which was named “Bliss”. “Bliss” featured over five thousand and nine hundred people from over one hundred countries; it was later renamed to “Fly to Paradise”.
Whitacre has released two albums with Decca Records. His first album, titled “Light and Gold”, was released in 2010. The album won a Grammy in 2012 for Best Choral Performance. Whitacre followed “Light and Gold” with “Water Night” in April 2012. He also recently finished work on a project called “Glow”, which was a choral composition for the World of Color (a Disney California Adventure Park Show). “Glow” premiered on November 15, 2013, and it involved a video projected onto a water fountain. The video itself was a virtual choir.
Whitacre also wrote music and lyrics for musical “Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings”. The musical has helped Whitacre win a Richard Rogers Award. It has also received a total of ten nominations at the Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Awards. Whitacre is also the youngest composer to ever win the Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission by the American Choral Directors Association. He has also won the Barlow International Composition Endowment. He has received awards from the American Choral Directors Association and the American Composers Forum. His album “Cloudburst and other Choral Works” received a Grammy Nomination for “Best Choral Performance” in 2007.
Eric Whitacre often uses poetry from Octavio Paz, E.E. Cummings, Robert Frost and Rumi for his choral works. His choral work “Animal Crackers” also featured poetry from Ogden Nash. His Grammy Nominated work “Cloudburst” featured poetry from Octavio Paz. Whitacre has also co-composed with the legendary Hans Zimmer for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” for the famous Mermaid Theme.