There are an estimated 5,400 animal species that make complex intentional, repeatable, musical vocalizations. Which is to say that are about 5,400 animal species that sing. Some are feathered, some are furry. Most live in the trees, a few live in oceans, and even fewer live underground. However, there is only one singing species that sings together, making them the greatest singers on Earth: humans.
We are the only singing species with a precise and shared sense of rhythm, which is what allows us to sing together. Two birds might sing the same song, but they can’t coordinate it. They can sing next to each other but not in unity.
Further, if a roomful of people sings at the same time, they start to breathe at the same time as well. And studies have shown that when people sing together, their hearts start beating together as well. If we’re singing together, breathing together, and our hearts are beating together, then it’s like we’re one unified body.
This is one of the greatest benefits of singing: the uniting of people at the root of their humanity. Composer Alice Parker has said a community that sings together stays together. No need for fighting, or arguing, or anything else because song touches our universal core. This is the natural beauty of human song. We commissioned a work from her in 2002, a choral cycle called "Exaltation of Birds". This piece that transports you into nature, with harmonies of a full choir that is singing in community. If you're interested in experiencing this feeling of community first hand, I invite you to attend our Exaltation of Nature concert on May 15, where we perform this work in celebration of Ms. Parker's 90th birthday this year.
Knowing that human beings are the greatest singers on Earth inspires me as I work to bring singers together, or help produce an opportunity for a singer, vocal ensemble, a choir, a symphonic chorus or community sing. Every time we bring people together around the art of song, we are making a difference in our human existence here.