The Savannah VOICE Festival: A Lasting Legacy of Raising Voices

Here in Savannah, we are gearing up to celebrate a cultural extravaganza as the Savannah VOICE Festival returns for its eleventh season from August 6th to August 20th. Over the course of these two weeks, the Hostess City will come alive with the soul-stirring sounds of classical voice, featuring opera, musical theater, and popular songs. This unique festival is the brainchild of the renowned operatic baritone, Sherill Milnes, and his talented wife, soprano Maria Zouves.

“The Savannah VOICE Festival is all rooted in the legacy of great singing left behind by its co-founders and presidents. The festival grew out of its sister organization, VOICE Experience, which started in 2000 and aimed to mentor young, aspiring singers in the craft,” said Chad Sonka, SVF executive director. “The Savannah VOICE Festival grew out of a need for a place for those artists to exercise that craft, and the Hostess City was a fabulous place for that because there was a need for something like that here.”

This year’s theme, “A Lasting Legacy,” pays homage to the artistic legacy of the Milnes VOICE programs, highlighting the impact of their great singing on countless people. The festival seeks to cultivate this legacy in young artists while inspiring patrons to embrace the beauty of unamplified singing.

We love this annual festival because it showcases over 40 artists, representing a wide range of experience and talent. From study grant artists honing their skills to seasoned professionals performing on international stages, the festival caters to all levels of artistry. This inclusivity is what makes the VOICE programs so special, fostering a nurturing environment for artists at all stages of their careers.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Savannah OPERA season, featuring three exceptional performances: Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” Wolfgang Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” These timeless operas are known as the cornerstones of the art form, the Olympics of singing, showcasing the pinnacle of vocal talent and storytelling.

In addition to the opera package, this year brings exciting new additions and partnerships. 

Notably, the festival will present the “As Time Goes By” tribute to post-World War II music at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler. Moreover, we are excited to share that the SVF is branching out to new venues, including the Savannah Cultural Arts Center and a collaboration with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra for the first time..

Despite these expansions, the core appeal of the VOICE Festival remains the same – the sheer power and emotional connection of the unamplified singing voice. SVF ensures accessibility for all by providing subtitles, translations, and program descriptions for foreign language performances, making it a truly inclusive and enriching experience for the community.

Artistic Director Jorge Parodi and Executive Director Chad Sonka are excited to carry forward the lasting legacy created by Sherill Milnes and Maria Zouves over a decade ago. The festival’s eleventh season promises to be a captivating celebration of the human voice, inspiring and entertaining audiences from all walks of life.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the magic of the Savannah VOICE Festival. Whether you are a seasoned opera enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of classical voice, this festival offers something truly remarkable. Get your tickets now at and immerse yourself in a world of enchanting melodies and soulful performances. Come, be a part of the legacy of raising voices in the charming Hostess City of Savannah!