On his foray into the classical realm with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin put his trademark vocal calisthenics to stunning use as an eerie, versatile duet partner--part falsetto, part bazooka. Emboldened by that success, McFerrin has taken on the challenge of conducting members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in this New Year's Eve concert. The lighter fare on the program, which includes Bernard Herrmann's rousing overture to The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Ponchielli's cutesy Dance of the Hours (to which the hippos waltzed in Disney's Fantasia), and Strauss's Die Fledermaus Overture, shouldn't be too difficult. His podium reputation will rest on how he handles Bizet's lovely L'Arlesienne Suite no. 1 and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro Overture with the CSO's top-notch instrumentalists at his disposal. McFerrin's peculiar vocal technique will be showcased in Faure's hedonistic Pavane op. 50 and the Gounod orchestration of Bach's "Ave Maria" (with cello soloist Stephen Balderston). He may yet redefine crossover. Next Saturday, December 31, 9 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666.