Savannah VOICE Festival's NYC Gala a Success

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Savannah was well represented in a snowy New York City earlier this month as the hostess city’s southern charm warmed the hearts of northern opera lovers at the fourth annual VOICE Gala held at New York’s exclusive Harmonie Club.  This star studded red carpet event was well attended by New York and Savannah supporters alike, who left balmy temperatures to enjoy "Opera with a Southern Flair" hosted by opera legend and VOICExperience co-founder Sherrill Milnes and Georgia born and raised based opera star, Jamie Barton who is the winner of the 2017 prestigious Beverly Sill Award, 2015 Richard Tucker Award, both the Main and the Song Prizes at the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a Grammy nominee.  Attendees were given a copy of Barton’s new CD All Who Wander on the Delos label.

In a moving presentation renowned tenor Neil Shicoff was honored with the 2017 Milnes VOICE Award presented by former VOICE Award winner Diana Soviero and SVF's 2016 Romeo and Juliet stage director, Fabrizio Melano. Soprano Dawn Kotoski Shicoff, Neil's wife, surprised her husband with a performance of Romberg's One Kiss.  Special messages were sent to Neil by Placido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli and Maestro James Levine. There was also a special memorial tribute to Fritz Weaver, Tony Award winning actor and emeritus faculty of the VOICE programs, who passed away last November at the age of 90. His children and wife were present at the event.

Over 120 attendees enjoyed performances by Michael Fabiano (2014 Richard Tucker Awardee) and VOICExperience's own rising stars Amy Shoremount-Obra, Santiago Ballerini, Carlton Moe and Carolina Gomez joined by the 2017 young artists of the Milnes VOICE Programs, led by Maria Zouves, Jorge Parodi and Howard Watkins.  Several of the singers of the evening will now join the Savannah Music Festival and Savannah VOICE Festival co-production of "Arias and Encores" in March. Savannah sponsors included The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa, The River Street Inn, Savannah Lodging, Visit Savannah, The Salt Table Chef Damon Fowler and Byrds Cookies.

Maria Zouves, Executive Director of VOICExperience and The Savannah VOICE Festival said, “We could not be happier about our 2017 gala. It solidifies the national scope that is being created with the Savannah VOICE Festival and the unique relationship music lovers of Savannah and New York have with each other. This fundraising dinner has enabled the Milnes VOICE Programs to fund vital scholarships and education and outreach programs in Savannah and across the nation.”

A New York supporter and gala attendee commented “After this gala I fell so comforted to know that organizations like VOICExperience exist to support the arts and education.”

The Savannah VOICE Festival returns to Georgia with co-productions at the Savannah Music Festival on March 23 and 25 and for the fifth annual VOICE Festival from August 5 – 27.