Mosaic Whispers alums provide message of hope with virtual performance
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Washington University’s subsequent campus closure, a cappella group Mosaic Whispers was unable to hold their annual concert, Splash of Color, which would have taken place this past weekend. The lack of a concert, which draws many of the group’s alumni every year, did not deter the Whispers. On Sunday, April 19, the Whispers posted a video to their Facebook: a virtual choir performance of their alumni song, “Sailor’s Prayer,” by Rod MacDonald.
“I will not lie me down in such a storm,” they sing. 85 current and former members of the Whispers sent in videos of them singing a song that brings a message of hope and resilience during hard times. The video submissions were coordinated to a video of the Whispers performing “Sailor’s Prayer” at their 25th anniversary.
“Once I saw the amount [of submissions] coming in and the interest, I knew it was going to be quite a significant project,” said Reynolds Whalen, a Mosaic Whispers alum from the class of 2008. Whalen organized the project and was responsible for the video editing. “It was a pretty intense project, but well worth it.”
The virtual choir video begins with only one singer and one voice. By the end of the four-minute video, all 85 video submissions play on the screen, singing as one.
“I hope the love that we have for each other and the music really shines through,” Whalen said.
The idea for the virtual choir performance originated with a simple Facebook post. Devorah Rosner, another Whispers alum, posted about it in the Mosaic Whispers alumni page, and it took off from there.
The video shows the strength of the Whispers alumni network.
Kate Wardenburg, one of the music directors for the Mosaic Whispers this year and part of the class of 2020, said it means a lot to her to be entering into such a close-knit alumni network. “[The video] reminds me of how strong our group’s connection is and how strong that bond goes throughout the generations of our group,” Wardenburg said. “The fact that so many people, who a lot of us had never even met…all care about each other through this connection to a college a cappella group that we can come back together and do this for each other, be there for each other.”
“It’s probably the closest-knit group of people in a community that I’m a part of in my entire life, actually,” Whalen said. He met his wife through the Whispers, and proposed to her at the Whispers’ 20th anniversary concert nine years ago.
“We have this brunch after the concerts are over every year, sing old songs, like the groups reassemble and try to remember their parts and stumble through it. And mine was ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ by The Darkness. And I sang it to her and proposed to her,” Whalen said.
Whalen made a similar video for his wedding, for which many of his Whispers friends pitched in to help him sing and edit a video for “In the Still of the Night” by The Five Satins. That personal project, though, was nowhere near as big or as involved as the Whispers’ alumni video.
Wardenburg, who will join the alumni network after her graduation this semester, said the connection is what’s most exciting about being a part of the group. “I’m definitely looking forward to keeping the friends that I’ve had in the group, and knowing that even when I graduate and when all the people I know in the group have graduated, we’re still going to be friends and have connection with each other, and that I’m going to make even more friends through the alumni network,” she said.
“There always seemed to be this depth of seriousness and love for the music that really drew me to that group specifically,” Whalen said, and that love is evident in the video.
At the time of writing, the Mosaic Whispers’ performance of “Sailor’s Prayer” has nearly 11,000 views on Facebook. That number is almost double the 6,000 views Whalen cited on Monday.
“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from complete strangers from all around the country and the world saying how much it meant to them, sharing it with other people because they want other people to see it and feel the same things that they feel,” Wardenburg said.
But ultimately, the video was made for the Whispers.
“It was a way for us to be involved and connected. And I think many of the people who appear in the video wouldn’t have been able to make it this year,” Whalen said. “This was a way for us to connect.”
The release of the video coincided with the planned time of the Whispers’ concert, a time they call Splash Weekend. Videos of the fall concert and their February competition at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella were released to alums, who also had a Zoom party. Had campus not been closed, that Zoom party would have been replaced by the Splash of Color concert.