Ragazzi Virtual Studio


Ragazzi is committed to being a pioneer in remote musical education — and in sharing what we learn in real time to help other music educators. Please consider making a donation to help our boys keep singing together during these challenging times. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and your donation is fully tax-deductible. Donate now.

80 choristers sing “We Rise Again”

Published Oct 8, 2020 by Peter Meredith

Yesterday, we had our first successful test of 80+ voices singing at once. As Mike Dickey tweeted, we believe it’s “the largest group ever to remotely perform live music over the Internet.”

To prepare, we broke into two groups. Kent Jue rehearsed Concert Group on one Virtual Studio server, and Travis Rogers worked with Young Men’s Ensemble on a different server. After 45 minutes, we came back together and sang the first half of Leon Dubinsky’s “We Rise Again.”

You may notice that in YouTube clip above, the video lags behind the sound. This is a realistic representation of our rehearsal experience. For audio, we use Virtual Studio, which has almost no audio latency. But for video, we still use Zoom, which has significant latency. (More on this in a future post.)

Second test of Virtual Studio with Concert Group

Published Sep 30, 2020 by Peter Meredith

Kent Jue directs “Hold Fast to Dreams,” 

On Monday, we had our second chance to test the Virtual Studio technology. Above, you’ll see an excerpt of “Hold Fast to Dreams,” a Susan LaBarr setting of Langston Hughes’ poem. Choristers learned the soprano and alto parts on their own; this was our first time putting the parts together.

Typically, choristers would watch the conductor carefully for entrances, cutoffs, etc. But this is proving more difficult online. For audio, JackTrip has reduced our latency to just a few milliseconds. But for video, we’re still using Zoom (which often has significantly higher latency). From choristers’ perspective, then, the conductor is always just a little behind the beat. Not helpful!

To get around this challenge, we’re experimenting with different ways to keep the group together. We’ve tried both singing to a metronome and using aural cues (which you’ll hear Mr. Jue giving in the recording above).

Founder Mike Dickey: Rehearsal was “music to my ears”

Published Sep 29, 2020 by Peter Meredith

JackTrip Foundation founder Mike Dickey was listening in on last Wednesday’s rehearsal with Ragazzi’s Concert Group and Choral Scholars. He wrote about it on 25ms.org:

It may have also been the largest group to ever sing together over the Internet. It was especially meaningful for me, because my son Sam was one of those boys…I want to help as many musicians as possible have the same experience of being able to perform together again. For those who don’t know, I’ve left my day job to help build the JackTrip Foundation. What began for me as a curious hobby has grown into a full-time volunteer passion. And I’m loving every minute of it.

Read the whole thing.

First test of Virtual Studio with Concert Group and Choral Scholars

Published Sep 28, 2020 by Peter Meredith

Kent Jue directs Eric Whitacre’s “Seal Lullaby”

Here’s video from a very exciting day: the first test of Ragazzi Virtual Studio with our Concert Group and Choral Scholars on Sep 21. These groups are made up of 50 boys ages 10–17. This video shows them singing together for the very first time in 6 months — and singing parts that they had learned entirely remotely.

You’ll notice that the quality is very raw (certainly nothing like the concert videos we normally post). This is these choristers’ first time using JackTrip, first time singing with hand-held mics, first time singing with new Artistic Director Kent Jue — and their first time singing together at all in six months.

We didn’t even know that the RVS audio was being recorded. But when we learned that a board member had recorded the audio, we decided to share this important milestone. We think you can hear the joy in the choristers’ voices — and see the delight in Mr. Jue’s eyes. We plan to share additional videos as we become more experienced in singing together on the Virtual Studio platform. Bookmark ragazzi.org/virtualstudio for all the updates.