BOYNE CITY — From the Big Apple to Chicago, from small theaters to Lincoln Center, Boyne City native Matthew Chellis always wanted to come back to Northern Michigan.
A trained tenor who has enjoyed worldwide success in opera, concert and theatrical performances, Chellis, a 1983 graduate of Boyne City High School, wanted to lead a summer vocal program that would bring him back to his roots. And after years of planning, Chellis brought the Up North Vocal Institute to the region in 2011.
“I thought with the Boyne City Performing Arts Center, I had the perfect place and I kept having these ideas,” Chellis explained. “I wanted a summer opera company, but it’s a huge undertaking. And then I was put in touch with Liz Ahrens at Crooked Tree Arts Center and they embraced the idea, agreeing to represent us as one of their education programs. That was just the key we needed.”
With all his ducks in a row, Chellis enlisted the help of his friends and colleagues from all over the country.
The mission of the Up North Vocal Institute is to train young singers in the whole body approach to singing, using the best training along with the most up to date body mapping and acting techniques.
There is no age limit for the students, the youngest this year being 19. And the program offers a two to one faculty ratio.
“We accept only 20 students, so we really try to make it a competitive thing,” Chellis said. “It distills the concept that this is an institute and a conservatory experience and the performers get attention from everyone.”
There are master voice teachers, piano instructors and even a teacher of nutrition and exercise, allowing for what Chellis calls, “the whole body experience.”
“You have to be conscious of your body as a performer, how you take care of it — your body is your instrument,” Chellis said. “So we’re all about voice training and mental toughness, taking care of yourself and learning how the business works. It’s like professional development.”
The Up North Vocal Institute will hold a number of performances around Northern Michigan through July. All performances are free and open to the public.
“I always thought this was such a wonderful area and I feel we really fit in the middle of that,” Chellis said. “We’ve had a lot of support and are looking forward to another great season.”
The performance dates for the 2012 summer session of the Up North Vocal Institute is as follows:
7-9 p.m. Friday, June 29, at The Odmark Performance Pavilion, Charlevoix
7-9 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at Boyne Performing Arts Center, Boyne City High School
7-9 p.m. Friday, July 6, at Stroll the Streets, Boyne City
7-9 p.m. Saturday, July 7, on the lawn next to Cava, The Village at Bay Harbor
3-5 p.m. Thursday, July 12, master class with opera star, Nathan Gunn at Boyne Performing Arts Center, Boyne City High School
7-9 p.m. Friday, July 13, at Boyne Performing Arts Center, Boyne City High School
7-9 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at marina waterfront, Harbor Springs
1:30-3 p.m. Sunday, July 15, at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
7-9 p.m. Friday, July 20, at Boyne Performing Arts Center, Boyne City High School
7-9 p.m. Saturday, July 21, Gala opera scenes concert at the Boyne Performing Arts Center, Boyne City High School
All these concerts and performances are free and open to the public.
To learn more, visit www.upnorthvocalinstitute.com.
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