Home > Classical, Rock & Pop, World Music > REVIEW: Bobby McFerrin & Stangeland Youth Choral @ OBF/Hult Center (Eugene, OR – 7/5/10)

REVIEW: Bobby McFerrin & Stangeland Youth Choral @ OBF/Hult Center (Eugene, OR – 7/5/10)

6th Jul 10 (Tue) Leave a comment Go to comments

This special Oregon Bach Festival performance brought together two diverse but compatible vocal acts – the more straight-forward orchestral-meets-gospel Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy [SFYCA] and the vocal gymnastic Bobby McFerrin.  Outside of the rendition of 23rd Psalm being penned by Bobby McFerrin, which prompted his walk on to the stage to show gratitude to the choral and conductor Anton Armstrong, the entire first set belonged to the youth.  The first piece, Kyrie, showcased their angelic voices and was the start to what would become a very religious-centric repertoire…

SFYCA’s 1st Set: ~90 mins (SFYCA only)

  • Kyrie from Mass in B Minor [Bach]
    *set change*
  • The 23rd Psalm [McFerrin]
  • Estampie Natalis [Nelhybel]
  • Jesus Christ the Apple Tree [Scriven]
  • Zigeunerleben, Op. 29, No. 3 [Schumann]
  • The Seal Lullaby [Whitacre]
  • Beautiful City [A.Thomas]

The group was very talented, but I felt they could have mixed it up in both song selection and interaction with Bobby McFerrin.  Perhaps it’s my own slant, but the church music is good in moderation.  Again, outside of Kyrie (which was from a Mass, but in another language and not so god-y), I could have done without most of the rest of the choral-only selections.  Additionally, trading off more with Bobby in both sets would have been better in my opinion.

Bobby came on right away during the second set, which was welcome…

He started off with his standard first song improvisation – which set the stage for his vocal gymnastics throughout the show.  He twisted his vocals chords into warbles, gurgles & bubbles.  He moved all over the range of several octaves with ease.  His style, for those unfamiliar, is much more than the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” guy, but one of vocal experimentation – not quite singing, not quite beat-boxing, not quite human.  He’s a one-man band with only one organic instrument.

Beyond his initial improv song, he sang and vocalized alongside the SFYCA, who for the second set was conducted by Bobby’s VOCAbuLarieS co-writer Roger Treece.  Bobby interacted a lot with both the choral group and the audience – directing us in “call & repeat” verses and improvising on some random people’s names…

SFYCA with Bobby McFerrin Setlist: ~85 mins

  • Bobby McFerrin solo improvisation
  • Circlesongs (with SFYCA)
  • VOCAbuLarieS[McFerrin & R.Treece]:
    • The Garden (with SFYCA)
    • Blackbird [Beatles]
    • I Can See Clearly Now [Johnny Nash] (with SFYCA)
    • Messages (with SFYCA)
    • He Ran the Train / Name Improvisation (with SFYCA)
    • Wailers (with SFYCA)
  • True Light [K.Hampton] (SFYCA only, Anton back conducting)

My favorite pieces of the evening were the initial improvisation and the Beatles cover.  This show gave me a great taste for Bobby’s music, and I’d definitely recommend seeing him if he comes through your town.

The Appropriate Linkage:

More OBF shows are running through July 10th.  Find out more at http://oregonbachfestival.com/events/

Next shows for me?  The Melvins on Wednesday (not part of OBF… haha), and OBF’s Tiempo Libre on Saturday.

~Dan – np: +Live+Birds of Pray




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