This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
To Perform at UW-Eau Claire
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900

MAILED: Nov. 29, 1999

EAU CLAIRE — Bobby McFerrin will conduct The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in a special holiday concert Thursday, Dec. 9, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
The Grammy-winning vocalist also will perform with his 12-member choral group Voicestra in the Artists Series concert, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.
The program will include Handel's Overture to "Messiah"; Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on "Greensleeves"; "Sheep May Safely Graze" from Bach's Cantata No. 208 and arranged by Leopold Stokowski; two improvisational vocal sets with Bobby McFerrin and Voicestra; Respighi's "Trittico Botticelliano"; and a finale with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, McFerrin and Voicestra.
This is a Heartland Arts Fund program. The Heartland Arts Fund is a collaborative venture of Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, their member state arts agencies (Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin) with primary funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and support from private contributors.
"There's just something about SPCO Creative Chair Bobby McFerrin," wrote The New York Times. "Any concert he conducts is a special occasion."
McFerrin began his conducting career with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He joined the group as creative chair in 1994 to develop creative programming and educational initiatives. During his first season he helped the orchestra launch an innovative music education program called CONNECT (Chamber Orchestra's Neighborhood Network of Education, Curriculum and Teachers), led the SPCO on a Minnesota concert tour and presented several special performances as conductor and soloist.
"Paper Music," his collaboration with the SPCO released on Sony Classics in 1995, marked McFerrin's debut recording as conductor. The popularity of his 1996-97 work with the SPCO — highlighted by subscription concerts, a tour to Florida and North Carolina and performances of Handel's "Messiah" in concert and sing-along versions featuring The Dale Warland Singers — led to ABC-TV's "Nightline" devoting an entire February 1996 broadcast to McFerrin's work in classical music.
"Nightline" featured his involvement in the CONNECT music education program and the recording of two Mozart piano concertos with the SPCO and jazz pianist Chick Corea. The recording of the collaboration was released as "The Mozart Sessions" — an album that made Time magazine's top-ten list of the Best Music of 1996 and was charted by Billboard as one of the year's best-selling classical releases.
Orchestral conducting remains the focus of McFerrin's musical endeavors. After extensive studies with Gustav Meier, he made his conducting debut in 1990 with the San Francisco Symphony. He since has led the philharmonics of New York, Los Angeles, London and Israel; the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.; and the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit and Pittsburgh. His 1999-2000 conducting schedule includes engagements with the orchestras of Baltimore, Chicago, Montreal, Oregon, Seattle and Toronto, as well as a Young People's Concert with the New York Philharmonic. In Europe, he leads the Munich Radio Orchestra, Rotterdam, and makes his debut with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.
Born in New York City in 1950, Bobby McFerrin began studying music theory at the age of six, shortly before his family moved to Los Angeles. The piano was his primary instrument in high school and college, but in 1977 he decided to pursue a vocal career. After a period in New Orleans with a band called Astral Projection, he moved to San Francisco where he met Bill Cosby. Cosby arranged McFerrin's debut at the Hollywood Bowl in 1980, which led to his signing with the Elektra/Musician label. His self-titled debut album was released in 1982.
McFerrin took a major step in 1983 when he began his innovative, unaccompanied vocal concerts. These led to a 1984 solo tour of Germany and the release of a live album, "The Voice." Throughout the 1980s he continued to expand his circle of collaborators and his discography. He received two Grammy Awards for the album "Another Night in Tunisia" and released "Spontaneous Inventions" in 1986. He was featured in popular TV commercials for Ocean Spray and Levi's, sang the weekly theme for "The Cosby Show" and sang the theme music for Bertrand Tavernier's film "Round Midnight" — another Grammy-winning performance. In 1988, he topped the charts with the single and video "Don't Worry, Be Happy" from his album "Simple Pleasures."
In 1992, McFerrin recorded "Hush," a duet album with cellist Yo-Yo Ma; it remains a best-seller on Billboard's Classical Crossover Chart. The jazz album "Play," also released that year, featured McFerrin and pianist Chick Corea in a mix of standards and original collaborations that won McFerrin his tenth Grammy Award. In April 1997, Sony Classical released "Circlesongs," an a cappella recording of eight original pieces with a diverse group of 12 singers.
When his contract with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra ends next year, McFerrin plans to continue living in the Twin Cities and serve as an SPCO guest artist.
"I love this orchestra," he told The Saint Paul Pioneer Press last May. "This is my first orchestral family and I consider all of them my teachers."
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in November, is regarded as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. Music Director Hugh Wolff directs the ensemble of 32 full-time musicians, whose concerts at The Ordway Music Theatre are broadcast coast-to-coast on more than 100 Public Radio International affiliate stations.
Tickets are $15 for the general public; $13 for those age 62 and over and UW-Eau Claire faculty/staff; or $5 for those age 17 and under and UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center in Davies Center and will be sold at the door.
Patrons also may charge tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call (715) 836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.
Free parking on campus is available during the concert in the Hibbard and Phillips parking lots.
The Artists Series is made possible by student funds allocated by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.

UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741

Updated: Nov. 29, 1999