After two and a half years of personal devotion to leading Taizé singing online, David Robinson has decided to step back a little from conducting a global choir 3 times a week, to continue hosting the Tuesday morning sessions. Thankfully, Gloucester-based Elyn will assume Thursday leadership – and Annelise from Leeds has come forward to continue Sundays.

While we can still recall the pandemic circumstances that gave rise to this delightful Taizé invention, I wanted to recognize, remember and appreciate how David Robinson not only filled a longing and need to sing that is core to the identity of the Findhorn experience. Despite the Covid lockdown restrictions, through David’s leadership we have discovered a unique way of deepening our noosphere (as Teilhard de Chardin described our interconnections) by creating global harmony.

David responded to the seeming contraction of doors shut during lockdown, by transmuting fragmentation into an expansion of community through individual leadership, collective experimentation and global connectivity.

Before Covid (BC?) many of us took global connections for granted. We could meet friends anywhere. We could attend workshops. We could sing in ensembles, choirs and church. We could travel to the other side of the world.

So, when the doors shut during lockdown and we were forced to withdraw from this easy flow of life, we could feel an inner contraction that mirrored our outer life conditions. Many of us felt cut off and isolated. Unless we had some experience with internet group connectivity through webinars or teamwork, it was hard to imagine how we could keep up our connections, let alone create joyful routines that enlivened the soul.

But David Robinson had an imagination that embraced technical expertise, natural environments and a love of singing. Especially through singing the sacred songs of Taizé which had been a daily tradition for more than 30 years at Findhorn Foundation’s campuses at Cluny Hill, Forres and The Park Ecovillage Findhorn. David had become one of the Taizé leaders at the Cluny location.

When Taizé regular Karin Werner suggested we try singing Taizé on Zoom, David stepped forward as a pioneer to lead a new mode of experiencing Taizé. He started to experiment with design for a Zoom form of Taizé that not only engaged singers at our usual Scottish locations at The Park and Cluny – but had the possibility of embracing singers from around the world.

Whereas we had sung Taizé sacred songs daily as our in-person routine, David started a schedule on Zoom  offering Taizé on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a half hour at 8am GMT and on Sundays for a full hour at 930am GMT. He made playlists that he sourced from original recordings from the Taizé community in France, individual performers and Findhorn-related musicians (particularly Barbara Swetina who brought Taizé singing to Findhorn in the late 1980’s, introducing lively and danceable sacred songs from an international interfaith community and Kathy Kennedy in the Borders). David published the playlist music and words in emails he sent out to a growing contact list (currently approaching 500), the day before each encounter (along with secure Zoom link).

By now, most readers will know that Zoom is a powerful and generally easy technology that uses both video and audio dimensions so that groups can view individual Speakers and/or a collective Gallery. Plus, it has the facility to offer breakout rooms for small group conversations parallel to the main Zoom online room.

This sounds ideal for conditions that replicated our group in-person singing. However, Zoom (and the internet) has a quality that severely challenges the synchronization of multiple voices singing together – namely a latency period that varies depending on your computer and where you are. This means that when people sing as a choir or group, instead of harmony we hear cacophony. How to solve this seemingly intractable incoherence?

Counterintuitively, the solution David offered was to put all of us singers on mute!! So, what we heard was the beautifully performed song track and our own voice. We could choose to sing any of the 4 voices – bass, tenor, alto, soprano – and we could see the entire gallery of global singers accompanying us.

Strange as this may sound, it created a wonderful community of Taizé devotees who expanded out from Forres/Findhorn across the UK into Europe, Africa, Middle East, India, North and South America, Australia and even Japan. Despite the variation in local time zones many people were regulars – especially the Japanese singers – whose local time would be at the other end of the day to David’s Scottish morning time.

Over time David’s experiments with song selection included personal recordings from regular attendees – from Germany, Japan, England. And David himself often recorded himself accompanied by others (using his technical fearlessness to combine and recombine harmonies). David became an expert Zoom host, spotlighting the special expressions of drummers, dancers (who usually spiralled into action on the last upbeat song) and even babies (born during this period). As an added feature, David offered informal Zoom small group conversations/gatherings – Zoom Breakout rooms of 3 or 4 after every Taizé session.

He also invited someone different to read Eileen’s Guidance each day and on Sundays often we were lead by one of 13 guest hosts who worked with David to select a unique playlist, share poetry and inspirations and often solo perform instrumentals.

So, during the last two and a half years, we got to know a world of personal styles, home backgrounds and feel we have friends around the globe. Some have gone on to establish “face-to-face friendships and a WhatApp group of 50 share thoughts and feelings on a daily basis. Zoom Taizé participants have also generously donated nearly £16,000 which David has given to Findhorn Foundation, Comminity Care Circle, NFA and others.

David himself became fascinated by the globality of the Zoom Taizé experience – encouraging interconnections, drawing out passions, performances and participation. He recognizes it as a special form of globality.

As a diversity generator of the human hive, I am especially appreciative of David’s initiatives because he co-created and integrated new life conditions – not just for the 4 voices of harmony, but from the 4 voices of human habitats from around the world – citizens, business/innovators, civic managers and the 3rd sector.

This unexpected consequence of a musical nature has become a genuine part of the noosphere that connects us all.

Other Resources:

Listen to Interview with David Robinson Click Here

Read a full transcript of the Interview Click Here: David Robinson Interview rev2

Send David a request to be included in the Taizé Zoom communications here: