Watch and listen as 2,000 voices sing Spem

Watch and listen as 2,000 voices sing Spem

Daily Comfort Zone

norman lebrecht

November 05, 2021

You thought remote conducting was a lockdown phenomenon? Think again.

Nigel Short has been teaching all 40 parts of Thomas Tallis’s Spem in Alium to 2,000 singers around the world, then conducting them in an online performance.


During the Summer of 2021, Choir of the Earth was taught Spem by Nigel Short with backing tracks by Tenebrae. Once the teaching was over, we sang into our mobile phones to these conducting tracks which you see on this video. We then combined all the voices to create the choir of over 2,000 separate voices.


You see it here first.



  • caranome says:

    This is fantastic n awe-inspiring in every aspect: the music, the collaboration, technology, the glory of the human voice singing together in uplifting religious setting. What classical music at its best can do. If this doesn’t move you, you are dead.

  • rita says:

    Ah! The gardener’s lament “I don’t think my garlic is coming up”….. 🙂

  • La plus belle voix says:

    Without wishing to appear churlish in these difficult times, as this must have been a huge feat of logistics, administration, and technical support, but the sound is pretty distorted, no bass, much white noise, and just no head room left in the final mix of 2000 tracks. And we do not see a single singer, captivating and sensitive as the conducting is. Ok, a singing head is about as interesting as a wagging finger. But congrats in mustering the forces anyway, perhaps it will be a fillip to some.

  • Michael B. says:

    Are you sure that it wasn’t P.D.Q. Bach’s “Spam in Allium” (Spam in Garlic)?

  • Barbara Kautz says:

    I am one of the many singers who sing with Choir of the Earth and sang all 8 alto parts for this recording. It was a prodigious effort. I am thrilled to have been a part of it. And for critics, I’m sorry you were disappointed in the results. But do think of it this way: Spem is a huge undertaking regardless of the way in which it is produced. Trying to get both tone and voice quality in a 40 part choir whether live or with a choir in a broadcast studio, or the way in which it was done–by Choir of the Earth is terribly difficult. I’ve yet to hear a recording of Spem with a choir of any size that doesn’t sound muddled. Maybe 40 voices singing in harmony lends itself to that. Maybe it is one of the reasons it is so rarely recorded. Learning to sing under Nigel’s directions was a wonderful experience. And Spem is far from the most favorite choral work I’ve done with COTE. If you did not listen to Spem with headphones, please go back and do so. Turn down the volume. On a second listen you might find something worthwhile. And anyway it’s Spam in Alluminum.