- Admissions & Aid
- Student Life
Bethlehem, Pa., January 28, 2008—Moravian College with hold a evening of improvised choral music featuring the Moravian College and Central Moravian Church choirs joined by special guest Grammy-winning vocalist Bobby McFerrin. The concert will be held on Sunday, February 10, at 7 p.m. in Foy Concert Hall. The public is welcome to attend. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for senior citizens, and $10 for students and children 12 and under.
Considered a vocal virtuoso, McFerrin ranks among the most distinctive and original singers in contemporary music—equally adept in jazz, pop and classical settings. He is most known for his octave-jumping trademark style, with its rhythmic inhalations and stop-on-a-dime shifts from falsetto to deep bass notes, often sounding like the work of at least two or three singers at once.
While visiting Moravian, McFerrin will hold a workshop on “circlesongs” with the College’s Moravian Choir directed by Dr. Paula Ring Zerkle, and the choir from Central Moravian Church directed by Rebecca Kleintop Owens. The workshop, which will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Foy Concert Hall, is not open to the public. The public evening concert repertoire will include musical selections from Circlesongs rehearsed in the afternoon choral workshop lead by McFerrin.
McFerrin coined the term circlesongs for improvised choral pieces he has performed with his a cappella group, “Voicestra.” They are improvised vocal pieces made up of layers of repeating, melodic and rhythmic vocal syllables, incorporating a variety of music styles, including jazz, blues, funk, and African, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern cultures. The result is an exciting, hypnotic, multiphonic sound that captivates participants and listeners alike.
The son of husband-and-wife classical singers, McFerrin was born in New York City on March 11, 1950, later studying piano at California State College at Sacramento and Cerritos College. After touring behind the Ice Follies, he performed with a series of cover bands, cabaret acts and dance troupes before making his vocal debut in 1977. While living in New Orleans, he sang with the group Astral Projection before relocating to San Francisco.
A performance at the 1981 Kool Jazz Festival led to a contract with Elektra, and the following year McFerrin issued his self-titled debut LP. With 1984's The Voice, he made jazz history, recording the first-ever solo vocal album (without accompaniment or overdubbing) to be released on a major label. His Blue Note debut Spontaneous Inventions followed in 1985 and featured contributions from Herbie Hancock, the Manhattan Transfer (on the Grammy-winning "Another Night in Tunisia") and comic Robin Williams; McFerrin also earned mainstream exposure through his unique performance of the theme song to the television hit The Cosby Show as well as a number of commercial spots. With 1988's Simple Pleasures, he scored a chart-topping pop smash with “Don't Worry, Be Happy;” around that time, he also formed the ten-member a cappella group Voicestra, featured on 1990's Medicine Music.
With 1992's Hush, McFerrin shifted gears to team with acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma; the record remained on the Billboard Classical Crossover charts for over two years. The jazz release Play, a collaboration with pianist Chick Corea, appeared in 1992 as well. McFerrin returned to classical territory in 1995 with Paper Music, a collection of interpretations of works by Mozart, Bach and Tchaikovsky recorded with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, (which he joined as Creative Chair a year prior). For 1996's Bang! Zoom he teamed with members of the Yellowjackets; a second collaboration with Corea, The Mozart Sessions, appeared later that same year. With 1997's Circlesongs, McFerrin returned to his roots, recording an entire album of improvised vocal performances. He then recorded a collaborative album of classical and jazz standards for Sony Music Special Products in 2001. It teamed him with such esteemed musicians as Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. A year later, Blue Note released his Beyond Words album, McFerrin's first work for the label in nearly a decade. It featured a band comprised of Chick Corea, Richard Bona, Omar Hakim, Cyro Baptista, and Gil Goldstein. Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu. Music degrees include a Bachelors of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Music in performance (vocal, instrumental, jazz), music education, composition, or sacred music. The Bachelor of Arts program allows for musical study within a liberal arts curriculum. The Bachelor of Music is for students who desire more comprehensive music studies. Study in clarinet includes private lessons, ensembles, clarinet pedagogy, clarinet literature, twentieth century techniques, and recitals.
Advance tickets are available online through the Lehigh Valley Arts Box Office (link). For more information, call the Music Department at 610 861-1350. Foy Hall is located on Moravian College’s Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus, Church and Main Streets in Bethlehem, Pa.