USF Helps Create Virtual Choir

What do USF students, local businesses and South Dakota middle schoolers have in common? This year’s South Dakota virtual choir, of course.

A virtual choir, in short, is the combination of separate YouTube videos submitted by people across any span of distance, singing the same song.

“We take alto, soprano, tenor, and base and mix it together into one virtual choir,” said Electronic Media student, Zach Dresch, whose father, Mike Dresch, was in charge of “ripping apart” and “mixing” the YouTube videos submitted by South Dakota middle school students.

Nick Poppens, a USF professor, has been the father of these South Dakota virtual choirs and was first inspired to create them by composer, Eric Whitacer.

Whitacer has composed and conducted five virtual choirs since its’ beginning in 2010. His videos have received over 15 million views on YouTube with his most recent choir containing over a million singers.

Though the South Dakota virtual choir may not get quite as many views, Poppens still sees a lot of improvements from last year’s to this one.

“Just the overall quality,” said Poppens. “We have Mike Dresch at Cathouse Studios helping us with the audio portion of it so I was able to bring some of my Electronic Media students there and it was sort of a learning experience for them.”

Mike Dresch mixed together 17 separate tracks of South Dakota middle schoolers in just a matter of two and a half hours.

“I actually somewhat understand what he’s doing,” said son, Zach, “and that would have taken me, like, three months.”

Poppens’ overall goal of this project was to simply create “something cool” that not very many people get the chance to participate in as well as to provide another learning tool for his students.

The South Dakota virtual choir will be making its debut before the South Dakota All State Orchestra on South Dakota Public Television.