SAVANNAH, GA – May 29, 2020 – Today, Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) unveils an important change in its format and continued partnership with the City of Savannah and Mayor Van Johnson in this era of COVID-19. This new initiative, ‘Art Matters: We have a VOICE’ brings a focus to artists and cultural arts institutions in Savannah who have been hard hit by the pandemic, and communicates the ongoing importance, validity and contribution of art to the economy, culture and heart of our community. This coincides with the announcement that the eighth annual VOICE Festival will take place completely online from August 8-22, 2020 as part of the “Virtually Live” formatting which debuted in early May.
This difficult decision was taken to protect the health of artists, audiences and everybody connected to the production, housing and feeding of close to 200 singers and faculty members who usually make Savannah their home every August and throughout the year. A recent presentation on behalf of an expert panel, assembled by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) concluded that, “there is no safe way for singers to sing together until there is a COVID-19 vaccine and a 95% effective treatment in place”.
“This August we will continue to provide great programming of opera, musical theatre and song with singers from all around the globe. However, due to the important and ongoing need for social distancing, especially in our field, our educational programs and outreach as well as professional events, will be creatively re-constructed to continue the successful, new on-line formatting, which has led to SVF reaching global audiences,” says Co-Founder and Executive Director of SVF, Maria Zouves. “We have introduced the initiative of “Art Matters: We have a VOICE”, to give a voice to the importance of nurturing art, artists and audiences, as well as protecting the future of artists and the vocal arts. We need to adapt to a new normal during these challenging times. Our organization remains committed to offering the highest quality performances, intensives and outreach online while we all remain safe.”
SVF will take place from August 8-22, 2020 and will be preceded by a two week-long online studio where artists, who normally relocate to Savannah for a training program, will still receive the highest quality online classes and coaching from the Milnes VOICE Studio, with Sherrill Milnes himself. He will be joined by faculty from the Metropolitan Opera, Julliard and Manhattan School of Music, among others. Community outreach will continue with online workshops and study guides.
The Stay-at-Home Season, SVF’s eighth, will include eleven virtual events in a variety show format, each lasting 45-50 minutes. It will still offer the Festival’s known and beloved fare; including artist recitals, evenings with a range of composers’ work, an international song night, a virtual celebratory gala and more. Festival favorites such as Death By Aria, Broadway concert and Shooting Stars have been reformatted for online audiences (full schedule below). Each night will introduce fun segments, including “Postcards from Savannah” – where community leaders join in from iconic Savannah locations.
Mayor Van Johnson himself will kick off this stay-at-home season with his personal message for lovers of the vocal arts from around the world and, as a musician, is scheduled to make a cameo during the Festival. Events will be free with the option to donate to support the mission of SVF, which is committed to giving the arts a voice. The eighth season demonstrates how “art matters” to society as it focuses its uplifting ability, making a case to keep art relevant and at the forefront of the conversation and in our community, now, and forever.
Mayor Van Johnson shows his support of the plan: “I am delighted that the city is partnering with the Savannah VOICE Festival, which is clearly on board with our ‘Savannah Safe’ initiative. The founders, artists and board of the VOICE Festival are putting safety first for their singers by celebrating the vocal arts through a digital platform, while putting Savannah in the spotlight across the world. We are looking forward to showcasing the beauty and strength of our community as a home for the arts, and through this online Festival we can reach global audiences as we await the warm welcome we will give in person when it is safe to come back to the Hostess City. Art Matters, is a great theme… because People Matter and we need Art right now in our communities. Savannah celebrates that as it safely finds a way through this new normal.”
With over 10,000 classical singers out of work, artists are thankful to SVF for the opportunity to perform online and earn some income during these difficult times. SVF is collaborating with other leading cultural arts organizations in Savannah to promote the new “Art Matters” initiative as the Milnes VOICE Programs celebrate twenty years. Legendary baritone and Co-Founder, Sherrill Milnes also celebrates his 85th birthday this year, after over four decades of singing on the greatest stages of the world. “Art really does matter – economically as well as emotionally. Shared experiences – in person or virtually, keep it vital.” says Milnes. “Had this happened in my time of singing, watching theaters go dark would have been difficult for me artistically, but also economically. I can’t imagine what our artists are feeling right now and how our industry will be impacted. Whatever power we have to ‘speak’ and share music, all of us in our industry is yielding it at this time.” He adds, “We are committed to being here for our singers and their health now and in the future as they have committed their talents and hearts to the Savannah VOICE Festival.”
SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL SCHEDULE 2020
“ART MATTERS: We have a VOICE” – Stay at Home with Season 8
Music, Dance, Visual and Museum arts: we cannot live without culture. But in this outlying time for us all, do have a voice? The Savannah VOICE Festival talks of art’s relevance and celebrates its uplifting ability, making a case to keep art in the conversation and the community, now, and forever.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 7pm
Art Matters: We have a VOICE
A Festival Kick-off
In the midst of all else, art has a Virtual VOICE with the Savannah VOICE Festival Online. The Stay-at-Home 8th Season kicks off in your own living room to stream and enjoy beautiful voices that will not be silenced even when theaters are. Join us to launch a fun and meaningful season!
SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, 7pm
You’ve heard the stories before, but enjoy them again in the comfort of your own home. Through the lens of the Milnes VOICE Programs, musical versions of your favorite tales remind you why the voice can tell a great story through song.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 11, 7pm
Death, by Aria
The Milnes VOICE Studio has been in session for 20 years each summer, training hundreds of artists in the excellence of the classical vocal arts. This concert introduces the emerging artists of this season’s intensive, so join in on the introductions!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 7pm
Masters in VOICE I
American Aria: An Evening with Sherrill Milnes
A voice that hasn’t gone silent in over five decades, Milnes will take a trip down memory lane and brings some special friends along for the ride.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, 7pm
One of the most known and beloved “voices” in classical music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is celebrated in opera and song on a very special night of his compositions and his influences on the artistic world.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 15, 7pm
Festival in Recital: Emily Yocum Black, soprano
Emily returns the to Virtual format with SVF in a full recital from her home in Kentucky. With songs that celebrate art and how it relates to her world.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 7pm
Artists, like art, contribute so much to our communities. They need to launch, even in a time when the stages are dark. SVF introduces new talent from the VOICE programs in mini concert segments, giving them a moment to stream… and shine!
TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 7pm
VOICES in Meaningful Song
From Sacred to Art Song and much more, SVF shares some of the most beloved songs of inspiration from around the world and back again.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19, 7pm
Masters in VOICE II
In honor of the work – with composer Michael Ching and Friends
Ching, SVF’s composer-in-residence, interviews other composers and shares their work, as well as his own in opera and song.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, 7pm
Virtual Broadway: An on-line Parody
Take a trip through music you recognize from the great white way, streamed in parody and jest.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 22, 7pm
VOICE Gala – a 20th Anniversary Celebration
From the year 2000 to now, the Milnes VOICE Programs have been inspiring artists and audiences to keep the legacy of great singing alive. In this outlying time in the performing arts, VOICExperience and the Savannah VOICE Festival celebrates its collaboration and legacy with some moments from years past and great music from the artists of the season. DON’T MISS A NOTE OF THE SEASON FINALE!
– ENDS –
Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt nonprofit arts organization in the state of Georgia. The Festival brings classical vocal excellence to the Savannah area through a two-week celebration of concerts, events and educational presentations during the month of August and throughout the year. Focusing on arts awareness and audience development in the performing arts, it offers music from opera, musical theatre and popular song. Donations are tax-deductible.
VOICExperience Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to pass on the traditions of great singing and develop new audiences for opera. Under the umbrella of The Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs, VOICExperience continues its dedication to the quality, integrity and perpetuation of the vocal arts through life-changing intensives, performances, and community-enriching outreach events in New York, Georgia (with its sister organization, the Savannah VOICE Festival), Florida and Illinois. For more information, please visit www.VOICExperienceFoundation.org.
The Savannah VOICE Festival is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.