Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick hosted one of the world's greatest living artists and charismatic master of improvisation, Bobby McFerrin, who today presented an intensive collaborative workshop with music and dance students of the Academy, as well as an extraordinary public concert in St Mary's Cathedral Limerick. Mr McFerrin was invited to Limerick by the Academy to celebrate the launch of the new BA Voice & Dance Programme, which commences in UL in September. McFerrin's visit to the Irish World Academy is in association with Walton's New School of Music in Dublin.
30 students from across most of the disciplines at the Academy had the opportunity to take part in the workshop, including students from the MA programmes in Music Therapy, Chant and Ritual Song, Irish Traditional Music Performance, Contemporary Dance Performance, Ethnomusicology, Irish Traditional Dance Performance and Community Music. Bobby McFerrin's workshops are world-renowned. He works both with singers and dancers, giving participants the opportunity to explore a vast palette of vocalizations, musical styles and improvisational techniques. Through the use of group chant improvisations (circle songs) and other creative exercises, he encourages students to deepen their musical imagination and expand their artistic expressivity.
Commenting on McFerrin's visit to the University of Limerick, Director of the Irish World Academy said: "Bobby McFerrin is a musician of global dimensions. His is a voice, which has found a way out and through the challenge of cultural globalization. His journey is a sounding out of the transformational powers of the singing voice. By singing across cultures, he kicks up a storm of similarity and of difference. As an artist, he makes sense of this through pure sound. Singing with every part of his body, McFerrin himself is like a global map singing the world. The Irish World Academy wishes to honour the visit of Bobby McFerrin to the University of Limerick and to Limerick City by announcing a new BA Voice and Dance programme inspired directly by the kind of cultural inclusivity and imagination carried so eloquently by this singer of singers. Celebrating the human body as the cultural carrier common to all traditions at all times, this BA Voice and Dance is a global first in its focus and concentration. It is the hope of the Irish World Academy that this auspicious beginning will chart the course of this new programme in its initial all-important years".
The BA Voice and Dance at the Irish World Academy will take in ten singers and ten dancers each year across its four-year cycle. Scholarships are in place to ensure a strong cross-cultural presence among the students, and it will have places for African and Asian applicants each year. Master singers and dancers have been identified across the globe who will act as Visiting Professors, and a full time on the ground faculty is already in place at the Irish World Academy in readiness for the commencement of the programme in September of this year.