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Every year, the YoungArts program of the National YoungArts Foundation for Advancement in the Arts offers 15- to 18-year-old emerging artists from around the country the chance to be mentored by some of the world’s greatest artists in an intimate environment. In this all-new YoungArts MasterClass presentation, four young singers participate in a memorable workshop and performance with a Grammy-winning vocalist when the HBO Family documentary special “Bobby McFerrin: A YoungArts Masterclass” debuts Tuesday, February 12 (7:30-8:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO.
Able to range from jazz to pop to classical as easily as he can jump octaves, Grammy-winning vocal virtuoso Bobby McFerrin (the hit single “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”) has collaborated with a diverse array of musicians, from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to pianist Herbie Hancock.
In “Bobby McFerrin: A YoungArts Masterclass,” he prepares four talented mentees – Aaron Casey (2011 YoungArts Winner in Voice), Christine Jones (2011 YoungArts Winner in Theater), Ryan McCartan (2011 YoungArts Winner in Theater and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts) and Hannah Zazzaro (2011 YoungArts Winner in Voice) – to accompany him in a concert at Germany’s Festspielhaus in Baden Baden.
Selected by the National YoungArts Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that identifies and supports the next generation of artists and contributes to the cultural vitality of the nation, they receive individual instruction from McFerrin, create their own arrangements under his guidance and join him on stage to perform.
McFerrin asks his students to sing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” in their own styles, then performs his own version and challenges the students to “mess it up” a little, accompanying them with his trademark improvisation. In addition to musical training, the students spend downtime asking about his career and inspiration, and, finally, wondering if it’s really possible to practice improvising. “Get a timer, sing for ten minutes without stopping – do it everyday for three weeks,” replies McFerrin.
“I didn’t think I was going to be this big of a part in the show,” remarks Christine Jones, in disbelief at participating in the Festspielhaus concert in front of 2,500 people. Reflecting on his experience, Aaron Casey says, “To know that a master – a legend – like Bobby McFerrin believes in me, makes me want to believe in myself.” McFerrin feels pride too, noting, “To me, the stage is a platform for adventure, and I think they got a taste of what that feels like.”
In 2011, “Masterclass” received an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program.
Image Courtesy : Erinc salor