Master of Dank Memes and False Spirituality: Eric Whitacre

He’s the poster boy of modern choral music. He’s the master of music and social media. He appears in choir programs all over the world. He’s the lusciously long-haired creator of the Virtual Choir. He’s Eric Whitacre.

The man is everywhere, and I want to explore why this is the case. I argue that Eric Whitacre owes a majority of his success to the culture of the 21st century, the consistent rise in modern humanism. The disinterest in institutionalized religion combined with the desire for spirituality is resulting in a market for unabashedly beautiful music like Whitacre’s, but at what cost? I then argue that this a theologically unstable (from a Christian perspective) market to rely on, and therefore, regardless of fame and recognition, this music may not stand the test of time as, say, Bach’s music has.

I’m interested to see what scholarship I can find on the disinterest in institutionalized religion; I can make fair assumptions that a lot of these sentiments stem from centuries of oppression, and that should not be ignored. However, I need still need to find theological debates that back my argument saying shallow spirituality isn’t the key to solving this problem.

As far as challenges go, I’m arguing something so recent that there aren’t many publications on the subject. Eric Whitacre is so new that “fresh off the press” doesn’t even begin to describe how current the writings on him and his phenomenon are. My best bet would be doing more research on evolving dogmas in recent years and tying it to the arts.

My thinking has changed slightly in that I want to focus more on how music doesn’t have to be “beautiful” in order for it to be “spiritual.” Bach wrote plenty of pieces that captured the essence of the Lutheran theology, that may not be considered aesthetically beautiful, but that still remain relevant today. Eric Whitacre puzzles me because I feel that he is more than a social media wizard with long hair; there’s something about his music that may be more problematic than we know.

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