The performance was organized by Harrison Sheckler, a Brooklyn Conservatory of Music student.

By Sue Carswell / People.com
May 11, 2020
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Composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein introduced “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in the musical Carousel 75 years ago.

Since then, the emotional song has become a standard at graduations, sports games and now, seemingly, the anthem of COVID-19.

In the past, it has been sung by Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis, who always closed his Labor Day MDA telethon with the show tune, as well as Barbra Streisand, who performed the song in honor of the victims of 9/11 and recently re-released it.

Still, a three-minute virtual rendition of the song as performed by 240 vocalists and 60 instrumentalists in their own homes from 15 different countries hit social media in early May, causing jaw-dropping reactions, all thanks to the talents of 24-year-old pianist and organizer, Harrison Sheckler.

When the coronavirus hit New York City in mid-March, Sheckler left his studies at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and returned to his family home in Charles City, Iowa. Sitting at the piano, Sheckler often found himself playing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

“The song is timeless and the lyrics are so fitting to our current situation,” he says. “I found comfort in playing it and believed others would enjoy it as well.”

No sooner did he get word out on Facebook and Instagram than he was casting for singers and musicians of all ages to participate in a virtual choir. On his website, Sheckler posted the directions and musical scores he was arranging for the song.

“The musicians listened to my original piano accompaniment through earbuds/headphones and used a cell phone to record themselves singing or playing their instruments, which include the viola, cello, bassoon the oboe and flute among others,” he says. “It was important that they recorded themselves for the entire duration of the song. Once they were finished with their video, they emailed it to me.”

The group performing includes a 9-year-old and someone in their 80s, as well as students from grade schools, colleges and conservatories from Vietnam to South Africa.

It took Sheckler some 200 hours to coordinate 300 videos into one. His friends at Zated Records cleaned up the audio and sent Sheckler a compressed file of the production.

As of now it has been viewed on YouTube nearly 350,000 times. Admittedly, Sheckler says, “I’m not quite sure how many of those views are my mom!”

There have been at least 4 million cases and 282,636 deaths attributed to coronavirus worldwide as of Monday afternoon, according to The New York Times.