SAVANNAH, GA – July 25, 2019The Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) is excited to ramp up community outreach efforts throughout August as the seventh annual festival continues, offering opportunities for area residents of all ages to enjoy free musical entertainment and get involved with the nonprofit entity’s legendary programs.
The free Voices in Sacred Song concert, slated for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7 at First Presbyterian Church (520 Washington Ave.), is a wonderful opportunity for community members to take in a lovely show, designed to showcase the virtuosity of spiritual music in oratorio and song. Led by Christ Church’s Timothy Hall on the Schlueter organ, this festival favorite will feature an especially lively conclusion – a powerful rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. This concert is sponsored by Kathie and Les Anderson with a free-will offering the end of the inspirational evening.
The community events continue with several educational offerings as SVF’s “Masters in VOICE” Series. This series, supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly, showcases the world-renowned musicians that the Festival brings to the Savannah area during its vibrant three weeks. Because they’re planned for various dates and times throughout the festival, even music lovers with the busiest schedules can find time to enjoy an hour of instructive programming, delightful music and insiders peek at the art of making art. Master classes are scheduled for 1 p.m. at The Westin on, Aug 6, 8, 13 and 15. Additionally, a special “Singers with Strings” master class will allow audiences to watch more of the process as the musical leadership of the new SVF opera commission by Michael Ching “The Birthday Clown” and the String Ensemble of Savannah Classical Academy work together to prepare for the String Ensemble’s debut in Savannah Opera’s the new work.
Sherrill Milnes himself offers an afternoon of career clips and stories from his illustrious international career on Tuesday, August 20th at 1pm entitled “Milnes at the Morris.” His stories of life on the road and on stage with notables such as Carol Burnett, Tony Randall and Luciano Pavarotti are as delightful as they are informative.
The grand finale of the “Master in VOICE” series is a collaborative master class of piano and voice themed “Come Together,” with pianist Benjamin Warsaw, GSU’s director of Piano in the Arts and SVF’s own Maria Zouves. This event, sponsored by WTOC, is at 12 p.m. Aug. 23 at GSU’s Armstrong Campus, 11935 Abercorn St.
The community events and free offerings are all part of a comprehensive plan that the Savannah VOICE Festival has to give the community it serves “Access for All.”
The over 100 talented artists that come from around the world to attend the festival are always eager to please crowds through awe-inspiring performances, but also see this program as an invaluable opportunity to improve their skills and gain a competitive edge in the field of vocal music. The master classes designed to help them in this respect will be taught by a variety of instructors, including world-renowned operatic baritone Sherrill Milnes, who co-founded the festival and Milnes VOICE Programs with his wife, soprano Maria Zouves. As the program offerings have grown and events have expanded, one thing remains constant – Milnes and Zouves are committed to sharing their experiences and helping young singers launch their careers and educating communities on the importance of cultural and fine arts.
Furthering the Savannah Voice Festival’s intent to bring educational entertainment to fans of all ages, Rachel Portman’s “The Little Prince” is being realized by a mixture of VOICExperience students and children from the local school system. The Milnes VOICE Programs once again collaborates with the Esther F. Garrison School for the Arts and the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System for this production, which features a cast of artists from the Milnes Voice Studio. Directing will be alum VOICExperience Foundation artist Chad Sonka, who is also SVF’s educational and outreach coordinator. The festival’s composer-in-residence, Michael Ching, will conduct. This collaboration with Chatham County schools allows young students to learn about the literary background of the work and how opera tells its class story as they present this as part of the festival’s lineup.
Staged at the new Yamacraw Center for the Performing Arts venue at Garrison, the production’s sets were built by middle school-aged students, who also will be involved in the show’s technical aspects and stars in the chorus — literally as the “Star Chorus.” The opera is set for 12:30 p.m. Friday, Aug 16 at the center, 649 W. Jones St. and Sunday, Aug 18 at 2pm.
In addition to its dedication to the community and local students, the Savannah VOICE Festival is grateful for the support of The VOICE Society – a membership of the festival’s fans and donors. They and the Society Business Partners in the city, contribute time, effort, money and energy to ensure that each year’s festival is a success. The members’ encouragement knows no bounds and is given throughout the year – not just during the festival in August. As volunteers, fundraisers, helpers and contributors, VOICE Society designees are appreciated by everyone involved with SVF, and members benefit from member only events, early seating and on sale for tickets as well as a special event for 2019.
At 6:00 p.m. Friday, July 26, Society members are invited to a free “Behind The VOICES” festival introduction in the chapel at La Scala restaurant. This will be an in-depth, entertaining, exploration of the festival’s “Heaven and Earth” theme, giving attendees and intimate view of how all the moving pieces come together to produce the grand three-week event. Afterward, SVF artists will perform at the restaurant after the presentation for dining patrons to enjoy. This event is expected to be well-received, so Zouves encourages those who are interested to make reservations for dinner in advance.
“Serving the community is a large part of the Savannah VOICE Festival’s mission,” Zouves said. “The festival would not be the success it is today without the support of the Savannah community and we recognize the importance of giving back. So, we hope many residents will take advantage of our free performances and classes – we’re always eager to make new connections and these events are great opportunities to come see what we’re all about.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit arts organization. Led by opera legend Sherrill Milnes, the Savannah VOICE Festival takes place in the “Hostess City” of Savannah, Georgia. It is a celebration of the classical voice with over 25 performances, including operas, concerts, food and wine events, and masterclasses. Offering music from opera, musical theatre and song.
For more information on the Savannah VOICE Festival, please visit their website at https://savannahvoicefestival.org/
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