Virtual Choir Performs Peter Lutkin’s “Benediction” as Altered Homecoming Tradition

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Levi Chapman

The 76-member virtual choir performs during Emory & Henry College’s “new normal” of homecoming traditions; photo courtesy of E&H on YouTube, taken from the performance.

Levi Chapman, Guest Contributor

While COVID-19 precautions have canceled many homecoming traditions at Emory & Henry College, the debut of a virtual choir performance on Oct. 25 linked members of the college community, both current students and alumni, to a new type of celebration.

Josh Boggs, professor of vocal and choral studies at E&H, was instrumental in developing the virtual choir project. 

“The performance included many hours of correspondence with alumni on how to make the videos, as well as how to submit them. We had 76 singers in total, mostly students and alumni, but also family members as well,” Boggs explained.

The performance, a four-part harmony rendition of “Benediction” composed by Peter Lutkin, had  been viewed over 2,000 times on YouTube by the afternoon of Oct. 26. 

“’The Lutkin Benediction’ represents not only decades of tradition, but it is the heart-song for many of us, as it reminds us of a place we love and people we cherish,” said Sharon Wiley Wright, Interim Chaplain and E&H alumna.

Olivia Sexton, a freshman who participated in the performance, felt grateful to be included.

“I think the way Professor Boggs set everything up with the video made it simple and enjoyable. He did an amazing job with this and I’m really happy to be a part of it,” Sexton said. 

In addition to this virtual performance, Boggs aims to continue those traditions amid challenges imposed by the pandemic. 

“We are planning a few other virtual projects, with the hope to have live performances again as soon as is safe and possible,” he stated.

In the meantime, members of these future projects can be heard practicing outside on the main campus when the weather allows.

Looking to the upcoming spring 2021 semester, Boggs plans to debut performances for those who have missed live concerts due to the pandemic. 

“We are planning some fun thematic concerts for the spring that include collaborations with instrumentalists, and I am really looking forward to that,” he said. 

“I hope that our students and singers understand how many vivid memories this project brought to so many alumni, choir and otherwise,” Boggs said. “The response has been amazing and shows that music transcends any situation.”