From his earliest musical memory, that of sitting with his church organist grandmother as she played the morning service, Jeffery Norris found himself immersed in music. At the age of 19, Jeffery began a professional career singing on two national tours with Fred Warings' Pennsylvanians. After this first venture into the performance and touring world, Norris turned his attention to classical music studies, first earning his undergraduate degree in music education from Michigan State University, then focusing his studies on vocal performance and obtaining his Master's Degree from the Eastman School of Music in Performance and Literature.
While still a student at Eastman, Norris made his orchestral performance debut singing Bach's Mass in B Minor upon the invitation of Bach specialist Alfred Mann. Since that beginning, Norris has also performed the bass and baritone solo offerings in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Handel's Messiah, the Requiems of Verdi, Mozart, Faure, Duruflé, and Brahms, and several Broadway revues as well.
Noted as a gifted singing actor, Norris has comprehensive stage experience ranging from operas such as Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Boheme, Tosca, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Telephone, La Traviata, and Kurt Weil's Three Penny Opera, along with many other productions.
During his master's program at the Eastman School of Music, Norris was a student of John Maloy. He was a three-time fellowship recipient of the Aspen Music Festival opera program, where he studied with Beverly Johnson, and a vocal fellowship recipient of the Music Academy of the West, where he studied with Martial Singher. A firm believer in continuing his education even after coming to Interlochen, his continued studies have been with William McIver and Margaret Hoswell.
Commencing his teaching at the Interlochen Arts Academy in the fall of 1986, Norris is currently in his 37th year as Instructor of Voice at Interlochen Arts Academy, while just concluding 36 years of vocal instruction and program leadership at the Interlochen Arts Camp. In his tenure at Interlochen, he created the Opera Workshop programs at both the Academy and Summer Camp, founded the Advanced Vocal Program at the Interlochen Arts Camp in 2004, and played a foundational role in creating the Contemporary Vocal Music Program at the Academy.
Norris’ former students have attended the finest music schools in the United States, including the Curtis Institute, the Juilliard School, the conservatories of Eastman, Peabody, New England, Oberlin, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Boston, San Francisco, Manhattan and Mannes, and numerous universities including Northwestern, Indiana, USC, UCLA, NYU, DePauw, Denver, Lawrence, Vanderbilt, Rice, DePaul, Michigan State, Florida State, Carnegie Mellon, Boston, Berklee, Roosevelt, and the University of Michigan, as well as many other fine schools.
Norris' students have proceeded to enjoy professional vocal performance careers in diverse genres, from opera to musical theater. They have appeared in many European opera houses and U.S.-based companies, including the New York Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and Chicago Lyric Opera, amongst many other companies.
Norris was honored as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts Instructor. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts designated Norris as a Distinguished Teacher in the Arts. Norris' 5 Presidential Scholar in the Arts Nominees and his twenty National Young Arts Competition Finalist Winners are honors of particular note.
Norris edited a version of Italian Songs and Arias (with alternate keys) in 2004 and is just completing a new book, The Practical Singer, a publication that offers an in-depth study of vocal techniques and a variety of illustrative stories.
Along with his wife, harpist Sylvia Norris, Norris has given many concerts and recitals of songs from Bach to Broadway. They have often produced gala concert evenings with other singers highlighting operatic, art song, holiday, or Broadway themes. Together, they have been featured performers on the Regent Seven Seas Ship Voyager.
Jeff and Sylvia are the proud parents of three children and five grandchildren and they make their permanent home in Traverse City, Michigan.
B.A., Music Education - Michigan State University
M.M., Performance and Literature - Eastman School of Music