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Internationally acclaimed composer, conductor, and UNLV graduate Eric Whitacre (’95 BA Music) won a 2012 Grammy in Best Choral Performance for Light & Gold, his debut album as a conductor.
Whitacre came to classical music relatively late in life when he joined the UNLV choir under the urging of professor David Weiller, director of choral studies. He thanked Weiller in his acceptance speech:
The first work he sang, Mozart’s Requiem, changed his life, he said. Inspired to compose, his first piece, Go, Lovely, Rose, was completed at the age of 21. He also composed the music for UNLV's alma mater.
He went on to the Juilliard School (New York), earned his Master of Music degree, and studied with Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning composer, John Corigliano.
Whitacre’s ground-breaking Virtual Choir Lux Aurumque received more than a million views on YouTube in just 2 months (now approaching 3 million). It features 185 singers from 12 different countries. Virtual Choir 2.0 Sleep was released in April 2011 and involved more than 2,000 voices from 58 countries.
An exceptional orator, he was honored to address the United Nations Leadership Development Program and delivered a TED Talk in March 2011, which earned the first full standing ovation of the conference. In September, he was appointed composer in residence at Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University, United Kingdom.