Prairie Voices: Ilus Ta Ei Ole

Sign on a Winnipeg Transit bus (source)

As I have written before, Winnipeg is a very special place with its own quirky charm and unique sense of humour. Frankly, I can’t think of any other place I would rather be during a pandemic lockdown.

Because of its relative isolation compared to other cities, Winnipeggers have developed many home-grown arts, cultural, and entertainment events and institutions. For example, the city is home to a large number of community choirs and choruses. (For ten years, I sang tenor with The Rainbow Harmony Project, Winnipeg’s LGBTQ2* Chorus, a time I remember fondly.)

Another well-known Winnipeg community chorus is Prairie Voices, a choir of 18- to 25-year-olds, which released the following music video on YouTube with the preface:

Like so many in the music community, we had to cancel our concert on March 14th, 2020. It was heart breaking. So we decided to channel that heartbreak into creating this video.

This is “Ilus Ta Ei Ole” (“It is not beautiful”) by Pärt Uusberg.

The text begins by describing things that seem ordinary and mundane. But it ends with the realization that all those same things, when put together, are actually extraordinary and beautiful.

We’ve seen this exact same thing happen with the COVID-19 pandemic: humanity is coming together with each of us doing our own small part to keep each other safe and well.

As individuals, we can only achieve so much, but together we can achieve anything.

Together, we can create beauty.

The conductor sent out a video of himself conducting the piece. The choristers recorded themselves on their phones singing their parts. The recordings and videos were compiled together and edited into this incredible video by two members of the choir.

I hope this slow-building, beautiful piece—and the way this video was constructed—inspires you as much as it inspired me tonight, at the end of a stressful, anxious day.

Editorial: Time to Refocus

A deserted Times Square in New York City (source)

You might have noticed that I haven’t really been blogging very much about the coronavirus pandemic lately.

I mean, the news is everywhere now; there’s really no reason to keep writing about it.

I have been struggling with despair, anxiety, depression, and anger over the past few weeks. Every morning I get up at the same time, have a shower, get dressed, brew a vat of black coffee, and face the day as best I can. Some days are better than others. Some days are worse.

I find myself taking longer and longer breaks away from the relentless negative news media, breathlessly reporting on the latest celebrity to become infected with COVID-19 (this morning, it’s Prince Charles).

I have received permission from my employer to work from home since March 16th, 2020, and I have been keeping busy working shifts at my university library’s virtual reference service (via text chat, email, Webex, and Zoom), as well as couple of other projects I have been assigned. At present, all of my coworkers are also working from home, and all the libraries are closed, as are most buildings on my campus. (Good thing most of our collection is digital!)

As you know, I reserve my blogging for my off-hours, mostly weekends and evenings (and the occasional lunch break). I feel like I did my little bit, starting in late January, to use this blog to warn people about the potential risk of a global pandemic, and to get them to take it seriously, and to tell them how best to prepare. For a while this blog became my little soapbox, which I used to yell myself hoarse in hopes that people would listen. Some did; some didn’t.

But now I find I need to refocus my attentions, and step back into the original purpose of this blog, as outlined by the tagline: News and Views on Social VR, Virtual Worlds, and the Metaverse. There’s still a lot going on, in dozens of virtual worlds and social VR platforms, and I still plan to cover it as best I can.

From time to time, I might still write the occasional blogpost about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting me personally.

And (of course) I reserve the right, at any time, to gallop off on another one of my patented Ryan Schultz tangents. As you know (and as this current public health crisis has proven), literally anything can happen.

Stay healthy, and stay safe.

It’s time to refocus…
(photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash)