Take a Peaceful Walk in ’The Forest’ with Award-Winning Choir, The Crossing

By Chris Ruel

The Grammy® Award-winning professional choir, The Crossing, is inviting audiences to take a walk in the woods with its new film, “The Forest.” The Crossing released the 20-minute film on November 24 and is available on the choir’s YouTube channel.

The film is a literal walk through the woods, filmed in one continuous take and accompanied by the sounds of nature mingling with those of 24 vocalists under the direction of Donald Nally. Beautifully shot on location along a trail at Bowman’s Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, Pennsylvania, the music, reminiscent of plainchant and interspersed with ethereal whispers and evocative solos, creates an otherworldly atmosphere of peace and serenity.

With music by Nally and Kevin Vondrak — the conductor and assistant conductor of the choir, respectively — “The Forest” was originally a live event with audience members beginning their walks at socially distanced intervals in family pods comprising 1-4 people. The pods were spaced 2 minutes apart and the route formed a loop, preventing the pods from contact with other groups and singers.

The Crossing’s “Forest” used new amplification technology, Echoes, to create the binaural (360°) soundscape with audio speakers lining the 0.3-mile path. The system, developed by sound engineer, Paul Vazquez, enabled the choir to sing safely at a distance of 30 feet apart. The Philadelphia-based Four/Ten Media collaborated with Vazquez on the film’s creation.

According to the press release, “The Forest” centers on the “symbiotic relationship between individual trees and the forest — a metaphor for the relationship between each singer and the ensemble.” The libretto, based on reflections of choir members’ sense of isolation during the pandemic is personal, further lending a strong sense of intimacy between audience and nature, as well as audience and singer. Further layers of meaning arise as “The Forest” reminds audiences that the beauty of the world’s forests and wildlands face an uncertain future in the face of global climate change. And, yet, “The Forest,” the release of which coincided with the American Thanksgiving holiday, provides a sense of hope in a dark time.

Take your walk through “The Forest” here.