From the desert to the valley to the sea, to all of California, singers from the capital region joined a chorus of singers from across the Golden State to help set a record Saturday.
Big Sing California featured Sacramento singers in a simulcast performance with thousands more in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Fresno, Riverside and San Diego. In total, at least 7,000 singers joined as one during the afternoon event, according to Eric Whitacre, the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Swan family artist-in-residence.
And it set a record for the most singers in one performance in California, said Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra President James McCormick, who said approximately 1,400 participated at the Sacramento Community Center Theater.
Leading the charge for California’s capital was Sacramento hub leader Don Kendrick, who recently retired from his faculty position at Sacramento State after 33 years, as he served as the master of ceremonies and conductor for the free event featuring people of all ages and singing backgrounds.
Kendrick, the music director of the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra, described the group sing as an “unbelievable experience” and said he was proud that the Sacramento contingent had the second-most participants behind only those in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
“The atmosphere here was electric,” Kendrick said. “It’s a Saturday afternoon and it’s hot and all these people are downtown singing together, standing shoulder to shoulder, feeling the vibe, so it’s really important education to me that people really want to be together and make beautiful music.”
Big Sing California, which Kendrick began preparing for in April, featured performances of songs such as “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails and The Beatles classic “Hey Jude.”
One of the many participants included Sacramento resident Yvette Nonato, who works as a research scientist for the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Nonato, who was born in the Philippines, said she used to be an active member with the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra, but has been away from singing for the past year due to her busy schedule. However, Nonato found the time to participate in the event after a friend jokingly teased her that she would be taking a flight from the East Coast to join in the group sing, so she better join in as well.
“I don’t think that there was anyone in the audience that was a (professional) singer,” Nonato said. “It’s just the love for singing and the notion that you’ll be a part of something historic, it’s the first time. Who would want to miss this?”
While there were no judges from the Guinness World Records on hand for the event, it perhaps could’ve set a world record.
According to the Guinness World Records, the most people singing in a round at multiple venues was 2,200 people at 10 venues across Japan in 2012. The most people singing in a round in one spot was 4,166 people achieved in Turkey in 2015, it says. The largest simultaneous singalong was staged in Great Britain in 2005 and involved 293,978 participants singing “Lean on Me” at 1,616 locations.