Eric Posada stood alone in a studio one day this April and conducted to nothing but a video camera.
As the director and founder of Pasión, a local choir nonprofit with dozens of members from across the Rio Grande Valley, he is used to leading the group in open chapels and on well-lit stages. However, because of the pandemic, the choir’s annual summer concert was canceled and Posada hasn’t conducted in months.
Still, Posada wanted to offer some kind of mental relief for the community through music — in fact, he said Pasión’s work has never been more important.
“I believe now, with the lack of human interaction and touch and singing together, that we need music and the arts more than ever,” the 41-year-old said.
So, with the help of 30 singers, Pasión created its first video composition, a rendition of “Even When He is Silent,” by Kim Andre Arnesen.
The group performed the song for its 2018 summer concert, but Posada said its message is fitting for the uncertainty the community is facing now.
He can recite the song’s lyrics by memory:
“I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining
I believe in love, even when I feel it not
I believe in God, even when He is silent”
Those lyrics were found written on a wall of a concentration camp in Germany. Posada called the song a timeless piece, and hopes it offers listeners peace.
“I thought it was a great message, a comforting message, for everyone right now during the COVID-19 (pandemic),” he said. “It’s a text that can be applied to those who are suffering, or members that have been ill, or have fear about the situation we are all in.”
Posada was the first in the group to make a video. He drove to his studio at Tyler Junior College, where he is the director of choral music. There, he conducted without any music or choir playing — he based his motions on how he imagined he would lead the group as if they were performing for an audience. Posada said this was similar to an exercise he did while pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
His video was sent to Pasión’s pianist, who then sent both of their recordings to the singers. Posada, with everyone’s parts, then made another video of himself conducting the group.
The video is now available to watch on Pasión’s Facebook page.
Most members of the choir are music educators, and since all local school districts have transitioned to online classes for the rest of the school year, Posada said they have been looking for an outlet to offer solace to the community.
“We’ve had to stay home, yet still maintain that human interaction and connection with our students and each other,” he said. “I know that this has left many feeling kind of depressed and needing that interaction, and needing those hugs and needing that emotion and beauty of singing and music.”
Posada said that Pasión has plans to continue creating videos.
“We are still hoping to have a concert, but for now, this is what we have to offer to the world,” he said.