A food court in a mall is packed with hungry shoppers, and a pianist is playing some Christmas songs of a generic type. Then one young woman, holding a cell phone, begins singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. She has a powerful and lovely voice, and people stop to listen.
Other mall “shoppers” and singers-to-be jump to their feet and soon a flashmob performance is on, one that has since then generated more than three million views on YouTube in only a matter of days.
The first singer is Stephanie Tritchew, who is a student at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western Ontario University. This soprano is surprised that she’s become a star, and so are the members of the Chorus Niagara that sang with her. The popularity extends well beyond the mall where they performed the flashmob hit. She thought the impromptu concert would be fun, but had no idea the hit it would become on YouTube.
Tritchew has a degree from UWO and has started her master’s studies, and she auditioned for the Chorus Niagara last summer. When the artistic director of the chorus asked her if she would like to be the lead soprano in the the flashmob, she agreed, eagerly.
The mobsters were instructed to act like regular diners and shoppers until the song Jingle Bells was over, and then to use surprise and split-second timing to make it a hit. Tritchew was nervous, so she talked to her sister on the phone as part of her cover as a busy shopper. Some of the other singers were disguised as a couple getting food and a custodian, complete with a wet-floor sign.
The surprise in the crowd of shoppers soon gave way to delight. Some of them began to sing along, and some had tears in their eyes. The event was recorded on smartphones, as the song went on. The flashmob appeared to be spontaneous, as they are designed to do, and it took nearly eight weeks to organize. It was organized as a thank you from a photography company to its clients.
It has quickly gone beyond what anyone expected. They wanted to spread some Christmas cheer, but they had no way of knowing that it would reach so many places world-wide. The flashmob happened on November 13 and it was edited and then put online on November 18, 2010.
Since that time, Tritchew’s performance, along with everyone else’s in the chorus, has gotten attention from people from places as far away as Australia and Switzerland, on YouTube and other sites. They contact Tritchew to let her know that the music touched them and brought a sense of joy into their lives. Tritchew feels that it is touching to hear the reactions they get from around the world.