Zoom is used for just about everything these days, particularly for meetings and small-group discussions, but not necessarily music. Singing and playing an instrument are activities that aren’t compatible with the app due to lag times caused by varying internet connections.
However, the Ragazzi Boys Chorus has overcome this barrier using new technology that allows the choir to sing together over Zoom. It has enabled the choir to create virtual performances and continue choir rehearsals.
Soon after the choir shut down in March 2020 due to the pandemic, Ragazzi created an online program to support its students, according to executive and artistic director Kent Jue. That’s when parent, board member and software entrepreneur Mike Dickey created JackTrip – a software program that allows the boys to sing from their homes simultaneously.
“Mike created a software and the platform that allows us to hook up to JackTrip easily and sing together. That’s how we've been rehearsing since October, and we call it the Ragazzi Virtual Studio,” Jue said. “It’s very, very cool, and it actually has allowed us to sing, rehearse and continue our program, even though we can’t meet in person.”
Using Dickey’s technology, the choir is rehearsing for “Joy, Awe and Wonder,” a concert scheduled 4 p.m. Sunday online. It will be streamed on the chorus’ Youtube channel at youtube.com/channel/UC0qo5ZXdr69r-ebKflV2g5g/videos.
“The performance is actually recorded live,” Jue said. “Using our system, where the boys are singing from their homes, they’re all singing together at the same time, and the sound that you’re hearing is an ensemble group – not individual singers that have been audio edited together. That’s different from some of the other virtual choirs.”
Talinn Hatti, a Los Altos resident and sixth-year chorister, said the new system is “incredible” and he is glad to be able to continue singing and sharing his love for music through concerts.
“I’m … super excited (for Sunday’s concert) because I just love to sing, and I’m so glad that, despite the pandemic, we can continue to do what we love and share the amazing work we’ve done for so long with so many people all over the world,” Hatti said. “Ragazzi has done such an amazing job. They’ve been such trailblazers during this time of absurdity when nobody really knows what’s coming next.”
Access to Sunday’s concert is free; reserve streaming-access tickets at ragazzi.org/donate/register-for-our-may-2-2021-concert.