Bobby McFerrin was always an unlikely pop star. The 10-time Grammy winner has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art, goofing around barefoot in the world’s finest concert halls, exploring uncharted vocal territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement. His latest album, spirityouall, is a bluesy, feel-good recording, an unexpected move from the music-industry rebel who singlehandedly redefined the role of the human voice with his a cappella hit Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Beyond that he always kept people guessing, what would be next: his collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea and the Vienna Philharmonic, his improvising choir Voicestra, and his legendary solo vocal performances kept people doing just that. It’s been the quietest and most polite of revolutions.
In 2012, Christopher Newport University established the Torggler Summer Vocal Institute (TSVI), a prestigious residency program for emerging young singers who wish to train with world-renowned vocal pedagogues and performers. TSVI exposes students to critical theories while developing a wide variety of essential performance skills during a two-week intensive artistic experience. All voice lessons, coaching and master classes are taught by leading performers, teachers and scholars. Skill-classes and workshops — including private lessons, vocal health, sight-singing skills, ensemble singing, diction, dance, acting, and movement and stage combat are offered. A maximum of 50 students are chosen to participate each year. TSVI is made possible by a generous gift from George and Mary Torggler, retired entrepreneurs and longtime supporters of the arts and education.