Flemish choir goes viral worldwide with live recording of decade-old song

Flemish choir goes viral worldwide with live recording of decade-old song
A screenshot of the video that went viral. Credit: YouTube

One of the most well-known chamber choirs in Belgium — the Flemish Radio Choir — has gone viral on YouTube with a live recording of its interpretation of song dating back to 1967.

The video of the choir's interpretation of Agnus Dei (Adagio for Strings) by the American composer Samuel Barber during a concert in 2015 has been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube, an unprecedented event for such a group coming from Belgium.

"Every day, an average of 5,000 people from all over the world watch our performance of the Agnus Dei. Many people let us know personally that they find comfort and solace after the loss of a loved one thanks to our video," Bart Van Reyn, the music director of the Flemish Radio Choir, said.

Worldwide, there are only a handful of professional recordings of the choral version, which partly explains the success of the video. All the views accumulate to the video being viewed for more than 785,000 hours. Watch the video below.

The viewing figures for the video really started to increase in 2018, three years after it was posted, after it was discovered by people in the United States. The pandemic gave the viewing figures another boost, with more French and Belgian viewers finding comfort in the performance.

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The text for the song is inspired by writings from the Bible and deals with themes such as comfort and peace. The song itself has been repeatedly adapted into contemporary songs by DJs and music groups such as Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto, Lucas & Steve and Bastille.

Most viewers are older than 55 and no less than 82% of the viewers are men. The latter may have something to do with the fact that Barber's music was the soundtrack to the American blockbuster Platoon.

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