"Improvisation involves coming into a situation without rigid expectations or preconceptions. We must keep going forward, fearful or not, and be ready for anything that comes our way. That’s how life is. Remembering that life can be full of surprises is always useful. We’re improvising all the time—it’s good to recognize that."
Join perpetual explorer Bobby McFerrin and his team of inspiring singers, teachers, and performance artists for a weeklong adventure in the improvisational singing technique called Circlesongs. Accessible to beginners and challenging for even the most advanced, the program invites singers, instrumentalists, and performers to embrace the freedom to play, sing, and invent their own music.
Bobby developed Circlesongs as a solo artist who craved other voices to help realize his ideas. He gave the audience parts to sing, and found himself spontaneously composing choral music. All over the world, he found that group singing not only made beautiful music but cultivated a deep sense of community and joy. He refined this vocal improvisation technique further during years of touring with his group Voicestra.
To create Circlesongs, Bobby layers melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, combining his conducting and improvising skills. He includes all musical imprints: tribal music, Bach, R&B, plainchant, Indian ragas, Balkan folksongs, doo-wop, and more. Every song, every voice has a place in the circle.
Bobby will be joined by charismatic improvisers, including Joey Blake, Judi Donaghy Vinar, Christiane Karam, David Worm, and Rhiannon. (Rhiannon will be part of modules 2 and 3 only.) Each brings a wide variety of experience, techniques, exercises, and perspective. Visit eOmega.org to learn more about each of these gifted teachers. (Teachers are subject to change.)
This experiential workshop cultivates the traditional skills required for ensemble singing—blend, balance, tuning, and sensitivity. Circlesongs builds the fundamentals of musicianship, including harmony, counterpoint, intonation, and deep listening. Invaluable for all singers and musicians, the practice is especially meaningful for teachers and group facilitators.
Each module allows students to work with individual faculty in small groups. The program will also provide ample opportunity for students to collaborate with and perform for each other.
The program is organized progressively into three modules. Participants are encouraged to come for the full 7-day program, or take one or more modules individually. Registration is by phone only; call 877.944.2002.
Circlesongs: 7-Day Inclusive
Friday August 15, 7:00 p.m.–Friday August 22, 12:15 p.m.
Course 3907-880/Tuition $1,600
- This 7-day workshop, open to all levels, from beginners to professionals, includes all three modules. Past participants describe this full week course as an opportunity to reinvent musical perspective and identity—a life-changing journey.
What Bobby McFerrin does is not an act; it’s spontaneous invention, celebration, and prayer. The New York Times credits him with sparking the current revival of a cappella music. The beatboxing community claims him as an inspiration, the jazz community claims him as a legend, and the classical world celebrates his innovative spirit. His legendary solo performances and his collaborations with great artists including Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and the Vienna Philharmonic have toured the world. His latest adventure, spirityouall, is a re-imagination of the American folk spiritual tradition. Through it all, his mission is simply this: to invite us all to experience the joy and freedom he feels when he sings. He welcomes the opportunity to encourage individuality, free-thinking, and exploration through his teaching at Omega.
Module I: Entering the Circle
Friday August 15, 7:00 p.m.–Sunday August 17, 12:15 p.m.
Course 3902-881/Tuition $595
- Enter the circle and immerse yourself in community, communication, and sound. This 2-day workshop offers an expansive overview of vocal approaches to improvisation. Module I is open to singers of all levels, from beginners to professionals.
Module II: Holding the Circle
Sunday August 17, 7:00 p.m.–Wednesday August 20, 12:15 p.m.
Course 4003-882/Tuition $695
- Deepen your practice and engage your imagination. Prepare to bring the workshop experience into your everyday life in this 3-day course in leading Circlesongs. Ideal for teachers, conductors, ensemble singers, group facilitators, and anyone interested in community building or spiritual practice. Module II is open to all levels with Module I or previous Circlesong workshop attendance.
Module III: Squaring the Circle
Wednesday August 20, 7:00 p.m.–Friday August 22, 12:15 p.m.
Course 4002-883/Tuition $595
- Music challenges our brains, bodies, and spirits, focusing our energies on specific tasks to free our artistry. This module is ideal for professional singers, music teachers, students, and anyone looking to develop their musicianship. Games and structured improvisations challenge participants to have some serious fun. Module III is open to all levels with Module I or previous Circlesong workshop attendance.
I think we listen to music because we want to be changed. Music is not solely for our entertainment. Music has such tremendous power to bring joy. To me, that’s our job as artists. That’s the job description. You must bring joy. Not happiness, not a groove, whatever. You must bring joy. I think that’s the assignment. I think that’s it. I have no doubt about it. —Bobby McFerrin
For more information on Bobby McFerrin, visit bobbymcferrin.com or The Official Bobby McFerrin Page on Facebook.