SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES THE PRODUCTION OF “A ROYAL FEAST” ALONG WITH FREE MASTERCLASSES AS PART OF THE NINTH SEASON

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES THE PRODUCTION OF “A ROYAL FEAST” ALONG WITH FREE MASTERCLASSES AS PART OF THE NINTH SEASON

SAVANNAH, GA. – July 29, 2021 – The Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) and the VOICExperience Foundation are slated to showcase several educational outreach initiatives to the Savannah community as part of its ninth festival season LIVE, including three free masterclasses on August 10,11, and 17 at 1 p.m. and FEAST on August 14 at 5 p.m.

As part of its mission to serve the community, Savannah VOICE Festival and its sister organization, the VOICExperience Foundation, will showcase three Master Classes on August 10, 11, and 17 starting at 1 p.m that are free to the public. Audience members can look forward to educational intensives taught by Opera Assistant Conductor and VOICE Faculty member Howard Watkins, Opera Director Fabrizio Melano & Psychotherapist Laura Melano Flanagan, and SVF’s Artistic Director and legendary operatic baritone, Sherill Milnes. Outreach and educational events in schools, retirement homes and for local charities, free teen workshops and masterclasses are always offered at SVF for local Savannah artists and partnerships with local arts organizations have always been a vital part of their mission to serve the community.

“We are more than thankful for the 9th season of the Savannah VOICE Festival and the efforts the Sherrill and Maria took to keeping our performers and participants safe and at home,” said SVF and VOICExperience’s education and outreach coordinator, Chad Sonka. “Our students and composers have worked tirelessly for almost two years to be able to perform for a live, and socially distanced, audience.”

On Saturday, August 14, SVF will showcase the world premiere of Michael Ching’s “A Royal Feast”. Both the synopsis and plot for this opera were conceived by students of Esther F. Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts and Windsor Forest High School. Over the summer of 2020, Sonka and Ching facilitated Zoom workshops with students to create and write some of the music and textual material for the 2020 production of “A Royal Feast”. Continuing to work with them throughout the school year to prepare for the live production of this year’s performance, “A Royal Feast”. “A Royal Feast” tells the story of what happens to Cinderella in after her wedding to Prince Charming. This sequel to Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” is a magical event with a special message for the whole family.

For more information about SVF, the VOICExperience Foundation, or tickets to this year’s festival, please visit www.savannahvoicefestival.org.

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.

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com, Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

THE OLYMPICS – BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

The COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways been like enduring a type of war.  One casualty of this war was the 2020 Olympics which have been delayed until this year, and which are currently taking place in Japan from July 23 to August 8.  The modern Olympics have only been postponed or cancelled four times due to the First World War in 1916, the Second World War in 1940 and 1944 and now the pandemic in 2020.

There have been a number of challenges the organizers have had to deal with during these games, along with a lot of debate about the wisdom of proceeding with the delayed Olympics at all while the threat of COVID-19 remains.  In fact, infection, and the threat of contracting the coronavirus has affected some athletes who have had to withdraw from the games, and has also resulted in the strict limiting of audience sizes or even complete closure of some venues across Japan.  I am not going to enter into that heated debate here, other than to say I do support and respect the commitment to and core values of the Olympics: Excellence, Friendship and Respect.

The history of the Olympic games date back thousands of years to ancient Greece when in 776 BC thousands of people gathered at Olympia, a sacred location in southern Greece.  The ancient Olympics were held every four years between August 6 and September 19 during a religious festival honoring Zeus – the god of sky and thunder.   The ancient Greeks believed in a community of gods who looked down on and interfered in the human world from their home on Mount Olympus, and Zeus was the king of these gods.  In these original ancient Olympic games, women were not allowed to compete, the winners were given a crown of olive leaves, oxen were sacrificed to honor Zeus and feed the spectators, and the male athletes all competed in the nude!  During the first fifty years or so of the ancient Olympics the only event was a running race but slowly the games expanded to include wrestling and boxing, sometimes to the death.  For the wealthy, chariot racing was added.

The ancient Olympic tradition lasted over a thousand years, but came to an end in AD 393 when Christian Roman Emperor, Theodosius I, banned all pagan festivals.  Theodosius The Great, as he was known, aggressively suppressed all forms of paganism, and he considered these games to be just that.  Ancient Greece had become part of the vast Roman Empire by this time so had to adhere to the dictates of its conquering nation.

1,500 years later, a French aristocrat and educator was inspired by the idea of creating a modern Olympic Games after visiting the ancient Olympic site in Greece.  Born in Paris in 1863, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was dedicated to the benefits of physical education and was an active and vocal proponent of building it into the curriculum of French schools.  At a November 1892 meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris, Coubertin proposed the idea of reviving the Olympics as an international athletic competition held every four years. Two years later, he got the approval he needed to establish the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which would become the governing body of the modern Olympic Games.   The games were revived in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and have been celebrated every four years since. In 1924, the Winter Olympics were added to showcase cold weather sports such as cross-country skiing, speed skating, and ice hockey. This is how Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who died in 1937, became known as the founder of the modern Olympic Games.  There is a lot more information at www.history.com

I am not a sporty person, but I do admire both the Olympian ideals and the dedication of the athletes who train so hard for the honor of the gold, silver, and bronze medals.  From a personal perspective, two particular Olympic games resonate with me.  The first is the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, when I was living in London and just began dating the man who became my American husband a few years later.  Little did I know that I would end up living in beautiful Coastal Georgia near where some of the boating competitions that I watched on British TV took place.  The second is the 2012 Olympic Games in London, three years after I had emigrated to the USA.  I did feel a sense of national pride for ‘Team Great Britain’ and felt a bit homesick for not being there in person to witness the land of my birth hosting the traditions of the Olympic games.

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Pierre de Coubertin himself:  “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

God Bless America and our Olympic champions!

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCE THE PRODUCTION OF “FEAST”, ALONG WITH FREE MASTERCLASSES AS PART OF THE NINTH SEASON

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCE THE PRODUCTION OF “FEAST”, ALONG WITH FREE MASTERCLASSES AS PART OF THE NINTH SEASON

SAVANNAH, GA. – July 28, 2021 – The Savannah VOICE Festival’s (SVF) and VOICExperience are slated to offer several educational and outreach initiatives to the Savannah Community as part of its 2021 LIVE Season IX.

At the ninth season of the Savannah VOICE Festival, participants can look forward to attending festival staples “LIVE” and in-person. SVF Co-Founder/Artistic Director Sherrill Milnes and SVF Co-Founder/Executive Director Maria Zouves look to bring back live performances and experiences for the organization’s educational and outreach programs, while keeping participates safe and socially distanced. The Savannah VOICE Festival will include 18 LIVE events scheduled for Aug. 8-22, 2021.

“We are more than thankful for the 8th season of the Savannah VOICE Festival and the efforts the Sherrill and Maria took to keeping our performers and participants safe and at home,” said SVF and VOICExperience’s education and outreach coordinator, Chad Sonka. “Our students and composers have worked tirelessly for almost two years to be able to perform for a live, and socially distanced, audience.”

As part of its mission to serve the community, Savannah VOICE Festival and its sister organization, the VOICExperience Foundation, offer three free Master Classes throughout the first two weeks of the festival. Look forward to a LIVE educational incentive taught by Opera Assistant Conductor and VOICE Faculty member Howard Watkins, Opera Director Fabrizio Melano & Psychotherapist Laura Melano Flanagan, and SVF’s Artistic Director and legendary operatic baritone, Sherill Milnes.Outreach and educational events in schools, retirement homes and for local charities, free teen workshops and masterclasses are always offered at SVF for area artists and partnerships with local arts organizations have always been a vital part of their mission to serve the community.

The Savannah VOICE Festival and VOICExperience’s most imaginative, educational initiatives of last year finally will be presented LIVE! Michael Ching, SVF’s composer in residents commissioned to compose an original opera, “FEAST” for our “Stay-At-Home” Season 8 festival. Both the synopsis and plot for this opera were conceived by students of Esther F. Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts and Windsor Forest High School. Over the summer of 2020, Sonka and Ching facilitated Zoom workshops with students to create and write some of the music and textual material for the 2020 production of “A Royal Feast”. Continuing to work with them throughout the school year to prepare for the LIVE production of this years performance, “FEAST”. “FEAST” tells the story of what happens to Cinderella in after her wedding to Prince Charming. This sequel to Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” is a magical event with a special message for the whole family.

For more information about SVF, Educational and Outreach Initiatives or VOICE-a-Grams, please visit www.savannahvoicefestival.org.

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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.

For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com, Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377.

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL PARTNERS WITH OLD TOWN TROLLY FOR THE NINTH SEASON

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL PARTNERS WITH OLD TOWN TROLLY FOR THE NINTH SEASON

SAVANNAH, GA. – July 28, 2021 – The Savannah VOICE Festival’s (SVF) is partnering with Old Town Trolley for the ninth season of the to provide shuttle services from The Landings to the second showing of many performances, helping guests “See the Best”, from Aug. 10 to Aug. 21.

The Old Town Trolley event shuttle services are limited, so get it is suggested to get tickets early! VOICE member trolly tickets are $15 and non-member tickets are $20. Ticket sales for the trolley will end 12 hours before each departure time.

The Old Town Trolley Schedule is:

  • 10th – ARIA at 8 p.m.: Pickup at 7 p.m. at Skidaway Island UMC, return pick up at 9 p.m. from Telfair Academy.
  • 12th – SONG at 8 p.m.: Pickup at 7 p.m. at Skidaway Island UMC, return pick up at 9 p.m. from Telfair Academy.
  • 13th – BROADWAY at 8 p.m.: Pickup at 7 p.m. at Skidaway Island UMC, return pick up at 9 p.m. from Asbury Memorial Church.
  • 17th – FEMME at 8 p.m.: Pickup at 7 p.m. at Skidaway Island UMC, return pick up at 9 p.m. from Charles Morris Center.
  • 18th – FLASHBACK at 8 p.m.: Pickup at 7 p.m. at Skidaway Island UMC, return pick up at 9 p.m. from Charles Morris Center.
  • 19th – LIVE at 8 p.m.: Pickup at 7 p.m. at Skidaway Island UMC, return pick up at 9 p.m. from Charles Morris Center.
  • 20th – ROCK at 8 p.m.: Pickup at 7 p.m. at Skidaway Island UMC, return pick up at 9 p.m. from Charles Morris Center.
  • Aug 21st – BOHEME at 7:30 p.m.: Pickup at 6:30 p.m. at Skidaway Island UMC, return pick up at 8:45 p.m. from Asbury Memorial Church.

For trolley tickets, please visit AudienceView Professional (ovationtix.com)

Old Town Trolley Tours has the largest fleet of trolleys in the city! With 15 stops, this narrated hop-on, hop-off tour will tell you all about the rich history of savannah in about 1.5 hours round trip. They have been voted “Best Tour” in readers’ poll back-to-back years.

For more information about the Savannah VOICE Festival, or to purchase festival tickets, please visit Home – Savannah VOICE Festival

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com, or Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com

CYNTHIA JENKINS RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS GOVERNOR’S AWARD

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Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 

CYNTHIA JENKINS RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS GOVERNOR’S AWARD

The Historic Beaufort Foundation is so pleased to announce that our executive director, Cynthia Jenkins, is this year’s recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Preservation!

This prestigious award recognizes excellence in the field of historic preservation and an individual’s commitment to preserving South Carolina’s history. The Governor’s Award is the highest honor given by the State of South Carolina and acknowledges achievements in support of historic preservation in South Carolina. This award is only presented to individuals who have exemplified lifelong dedication to the preservation of South Carolina’s historic buildings, structures or sites. No one epitomizes a love of South Carolina’s historic preservation more than Cynthia Jenkins.

Historic preservation has long been an integral part of Cynthia’s life. As the first person to receive an undergraduate degree in Historic Preservation, Cynthia has always understood the importance of maintaining and cultivating the history of people and places. Cynthia began her impressive career in historic preservation at the Lowcountry Council of Governments in Yemassee, South Carolina. From there, Cynthia joined the Tennessee State Historic Preservation Office and developed the methodology of

conducting statewide historic site surveys. While there, she also assisted in creating an efficient National Register program.

Cynthia quickly became a sought-after expert in the field of historic preservation. In 1996, the Preservation Society of Charleston saw the benefit of her experience and hired Cynthia as their Executive Director. While there, she focused on preservation advocacy, preservation education and preservation planning. Under her leadership, the Society’s endowment increased from less than $20,000 to more than $2,000,000. Cynthia’s love for preservation is contagious and the Preservation Society of Charleston’s membership increased by close to one third in number.

 

Over the years, Cynthia has served on over two dozen boards and commissions. She has also worked as an Adjunct Professor at Clemson University and the University of Charleston and educational adviser at Middle State Tennessee University. Additionally, Cynthia continues to serve as a volunteer and on several Boards of Directors. Cynthia has had the opportunity to work with many different historic organizations in several places. In each of these roles, she has made important advancements in historic preservation.

But perhaps her favorite accomplishment has been her long association with the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Auldbrass Plantation near Yemassee, South Carolina. Cynthia was instrumental in securing its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. She also directed the monitoring of covenants for restoration required by the Historic Charleston Foundation.

In addition to her leadership roles, Cynthia has also found time to publish informative literature in areas of historic preservation. She surveyed, researched and wrote Historic Resources of the Lowcountry: A Regional Survey. She also assisted the City of Beaufort in developing The Beaufort Preservation Manual, which remains one of the most successful preservation design manuals for individuals and cities.

At the Historic Beaufort Foundation, we recognize how lucky we are to have Cynthia as our Executive Director. In 2019, she returned to the Historic Beaufort Foundation as the Executive Director. Here, she is focusing on the organization’s efforts of ensuring that preservation in Beaufort remains at the forefront by raising the organization’s profile, increasing membership, adding diversity and rehabilitating the Verdier House, a Beaufort landmark. Among other pivotal Beaufort projects, Cynthia was a key player in the development of the City’s Tourism Ordinance, the Tour Bus Ordinance and Film Guidelines. Wayne Vance, Chairman, HBF Board of Trustees, recognized Cynthia’s receipt of the Governor’s Award with the following words: “This is well deserved recognition of Cynthia’s talent, knowledge and dedication. Her leadership is invaluable to our community and to accomplishing the Foundation’s mission to preserve and protect Beaufort’s historic and architectural legacy.” 

Congratulations to Cynthia!

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES SAVANNAH OPERA COMPANY’S PRODUCTION OF LA BOHÈME

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES SAVANNAH OPERA COMPANY’S PRODUCTION OF LA BOHÈME

SAVANNAH, GA – July 22, 2021 – The ninth annual Savannah VOICE Festival, staged Aug. 8 – 22 in and around the Hostess City, will include a condensed production of the famous La Bohème opera on Saturday, August 21, directed by the Savannah Opera Company’s Fabrizio Melano and Maestro, Andrew Bisantz.

“La Bohème” will be presented in two one-hour shows at Asbury Memorial Church, located on 1008 E. Henry Street, beginning at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this production are $50 for premium seats, and $32.50 for standard seating. The 5 p.m. showing is graciously sponsored by Marjorie and B.H. Levy and the 7:30 showing by Carolyn Donovan.

The Savannah Opera Company launched in 2018, on the heels of the sixth Savannah VOICE Festival. This brand is the daughter organization of the Savannah VOICE Festival and the VOICExperience Foundation. The Savannah Opera Company continues with the work of the SVF in staging high quality productions in the city of Savannah, GA.

“We are thrilled to say that The Savannah VOICE Festival and the Savannah Opera Company are back LIVE and better than ever,” says the Founder and Executive Director of The Savannah VOICE Festival, Maria Zouves. “The Savannah Opera Company grows stronger every year, this year presenting the famous “La Bohème”. We’d like to thank all our artists, sponsors, and donors for supporting us as we bounce back from the pandemic in an impactful one-hour production and celebrate live performance once again.”

“La Bohème” is the most frequently performed Italian operas. The Savannah VOICE Festival presents an abridged version of Puccini’s love story with Stage Director, Fabrizio Melano, and Maestro, Andrew Bisantz, breathe new life into this timeless masterpiece.

“La Bohème” premiered Feb 1, 1896, at the Teatro Regio in Italy as a four-act opera, set in 1830’s Paris, France. This story portrays the bohemian lifestyle, and tragic love story, of a poor poet and seamstress. Four struggling bohemians – a poet, a painter, a musician and a philosopher are living together in Paris, when one freezing Christmas Eve their lives are changed forever. A girl named Mimì knocks on their door looking for a candle light, and she and Rodolfo fall in love. However, the rush of love at first sight soon gives way to something much darker – it becomes clear that Mimì is desperately ill, and that Rodolfo, in his poverty, cannot provide for her. Our bohemians try to find their way, but are soon sharply awoken to the harsh realities of life…

For a full lineup of all Savannah VOICE Festival concerts, performances, master classes and other events, to join the VOICE Society, or to purchase tickets to La Bohème and other events, please call 855.766.7372, email info@savannahvoicefestival.org or visit www.savannahvoicefestival.org

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. 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. Donations are tax-deductible.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com/912-272-8651 or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com/912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL TO HOST MULTIPLE PRODUCTIONS AT THE CHARLES H. MORRIS CENTER

SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL TO HOST MULTIPLE PRODUCTIONS AT THE CHARLES H. MORRIS CENTER

SAVANNAH, GA – July 22, 2021 – The Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) is partnering with The Charles H. Morris Center for its ninth season to present an impressive week of productions happening Live during the final week of the festival, August 18-20. At The Morris Center, you can look forward to various genres of music with the productions of “FEMME”, “FLASHBACK”, “LIVE”, and “ROCK”.

Each performance will have two showings, the first showing will begin promptly at 6 p.m. and the final showing at 8 p.m. Standard admission to each performance is $27.50 and premium admission is $45, which includes access to a reception following the performance.

Directed by Festival favorite, Jessica Fishenfeld, FEMME is scheduled at The Morris Center for Tuesday, August 17. Guests will enjoy familiar opera arias and scenes with a new twist, while discovering music by women composers. The 6 p.m. showing was graciously sponsored by Elliott C. Bardsley in memory of Marilyn Bardsley and the 8 p.m. showing was sponsored by Nancy Cunningham, in memory of Rev. Augustine W. Cunningham, O.S.B.

Enjoy the FLASHBACK performance on August 18. This event highlights the best of the eighth virtual season of Savannah VOICE Festival. Join the on-screen stars of the Stay-at-Home season as they relive the performances you loved in a new live format. The 6 p.m. showing is graciously sponsored by Carlton & Nancy S. Sheets and the 8 p.m. showing was sponsored by Toby Hollenberg.

The last event as the Morris Center will be on Thursday, August 19. will be LIVE. A year of online streaming burst past the computer screens into the Morris Center as the artists celebrate Savannah VOICE Festival LIVE! With artist you know and love, along with the new faces of Season Nine, don’t miss the passion and legacy of great opera, hosted by globally acclaimed baritone Sherill Milnes. This production is graciously sponsored Dr. Garry & Susan Spector.

Savannah VOICE Festival artists are accompanied by the Elite Party Band for a night of your favorite radio hits. This event will showcase the SVF artists’ versatility with classic rock performances from popular 80s classics. ROCK is scheduled at The Morris Center for Friday, Aug. 20. The 6pm showing was graciously sponsored by Audiology & Hearing Aid Associates and Norburg Chiropractic and Wellness Center and the 8 pm showing was sponsored by Winston Willis.

“Our goal with the festival was to showcase a variety of music that wasn’t just opera. Our ninth season lineup at The Charles H. Morris Center is exquisite,” said SVF Executive Director Maria Zouves. “We are so thankful to Charles H. Morris and the Center for partnering with the Savannah VOICE Festival for our ninth season.”

For a full lineup of all Savannah VOICE Festival concerts, performances, master classes and other events, to join the VOICE Society, or to purchase tickets to any of the Morris Center and other events, please call 855.766.7372, email info@savannahvoicefestival.org or visit www.savannahvoicefestival.org

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. 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. Donations are tax-deductible.

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com, or Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com

FORD, EDISON, AND FIRESTONE GO CAMPING

There were three close friends who went on their annual weeklong camping trip together 100 years ago this week in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They called themselves “the Vagabonds”.  They went swimming, horseback riding, shooting, slept in tents, and had a wood chopping competition.  Not much out of the ordinary back in 1921, except these three friends happened to be among the world’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen – Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone.  Oh, and they also invited the President of the United States, Warren G. Harding.

Norman Brauer, author of There to Breathe the Beauty, describes it best. “Imagine a scenario in which an outdoors-loving president takes a sudden weekend leave from the White House to join up with three of the most powerful industrialists in the Western world at a campsite in the mountains of Western Maryland, where they ride horses, shoot rifles, chop wood, and eat and sleep in tents beside a babbling brook.”

People who know me or regular readers of my column, will know that I am not a fan of camping, even when I was a young girl.  I remember that I had to spend seven nights under canvas to achieve my ‘Queen’s Guide’ award in my early teens (the equivalent of the Gold Award for Girl Scouts in the USA).  For me that was the hardest part of the challenges that lead to the recognition of this prestigious award. 

I believe that working hard all my life means that I should be able to enjoy good plumbing, electricity, clean sheets on a soft mattress, good Wi-Fi and all the other comforts of being indoors in the 21st century!  If I am on vacation, I would rather have room service and housekeeping – otherwise it is me providing those services!  My husband and I don’t always want exactly the same thing on a vacation so we often compromise and then occasionally he goes away with the boys “roughing it” and I have a girls trip to a hotel, with a spa, nice restaurant and near the shops or beach. 

So, I don’t really understand what led Ford, Edison, Firestone, and famous nature writer John Burroughs to start their “Vagabond” camping trips in about 1915.  Originally these trips were true vacations in which these titans of industry could get away from the pressures of business and their growing empires.  Burroughs, who died in early 1921, wrote about their adventures in A Strenuous Holiday, which was published after his death.  “We cheerfully endure wet, cold, smoke, mosquitoes, black flies, and sleepless nights, just to touch naked reality once more,” he wrote, describing how the group tried to shake off the trappings of wealth and power for a few weeks each year.  However, as time went on, these trips became larger, more organized, and eventually had traveling gourmet chefs and waiters in black tie.  Today we would call it “glamping”, the modern term for “glamorous camping” – which sounds much better to me!  There also became an increasing focus on publicity and showmanship, and these trips became a major advertising initiative in the selling of Ford cars and Firestone tires.  By the mid-1920s, the “Vagabond” camping trips became so well known that the group had to stop this tradition since the crowds made them unmanageable.

But back to the trip of 100 years ago this week; the entourage was only about 100 people and a convoy of only a few dozen of vehicles.  President Harding joined that year, as did their wives for the first time, plus the press, photographers, secret service agents, cooks, guides, drivers and more.  Crowds gathered by roadsides to watch the convey go by and hope to catch a glimpse of this rich, famous, and powerful group.  Extensive press coverage of the event captured the imagination of the entire country and even the world, which was just emerging from the dual nightmares of the Spanish Flu epidemic and the First World War. People were keen for good news stories, and the public ate this one up.

This period also marks the general beginning of the American theme of “the open road” and “getting back to nature” to unwind.  Camping as a recreational activity was relatively new 100 years ago since the common perception was that only the Military and people down on their luck slept in tents. The automobile was radically changing American society about that time, and the idea of family travel and adventures on the open road were new and exciting.  Ford and Firestone were, of course, key beneficiaries of that change. Jeff Guinn, author of The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip, encapsulates the idea of the traveling American spirit in one sentence.  “The whole idea of driving trips was grounded on the concept of going where you wanted for as far as you liked”.  How unabashedly American an idea!

So why did President Harding join the group that year?  Some say he wanted to pick the brains of the world’s most successful industrialists on economic policy, and others insist it was to curry favour with rich and important people.  Yet others thought it was to get a break from the scandals that were plaguing his presidency.  Personally, I believe the most plausible explanation is that he just wanted to go play with his friends.  After all, boys will be boys.

God Bless America!

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

HISTORIC BEAUFORT FOUNDATION FILES APPEAL OF HISTORIC REVIEW BOARD’S APPROVAL OF LARGE FOOTPRINT DEVELOPMENTS

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Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 

HISTORIC BEAUFORT FOUNDATION FILES APPEAL OF HISTORIC REVIEW BOARD’S APPROVAL OF LARGE FOOTPRINT DEVELOPMENTS

Today, Historic Beaufort Foundation (HBF) filed a petition in Circuit Court appealing the June 9 decision by the City of Beaufort’s Historic Review Board to allow construction of a four-level parking garage and a four-story hotel in the heart of Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark District.

HBF Executive Director Cynthia Jenkins said, “Beaufort is unique and has been fortunate to maintain a significant  portion of our architectural legacy and historic integrity. The Historic Review Board’s recent decisions not only impact our city now but, more importantly, set precedents for all future development.”

“HBF sees these as  generational projects that will forever adversely impact Beaufort. Our objective, as always, is not to prevent progress or development, but to ensure that all new construction is compatible with the significant character of Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark district,” Jenkins said.

HBF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South Carolina. For more information on our mission and history, please visit historicbeaufort.org and follow us on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.

YOU’RE INVITED TO DINNER WITH ROBERT MILLS

LFPR

Historic Beaufort Foundation

By Mary Thompson 

YOU’RE INVITED TO DINNER WITH ROBERT MILLS

Sponsored by the South Carolina Historical Society.

We are pleased to inform you of our next Dinner and a Lecture: Robert Mills: America’s First Native Born Architect. HBF’s lecture series is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a specific aspect of Beaufort and South Carolina history while making a deeper connection with our beautiful city. You are invited to join us as we learn about the life and legacy of Robert Mills, America’s first native-born architect, by lecturer William S. Davies, Jr.

Robert Mills was born in Charleston in 1781 and was the first architect to be entirely trained in the United States. Unlike other architects of this period who trained in Europe, Robert Mills’ style was completely developed out of his experiences within this country and influenced by the topography and character of the nation.

While he is most known for designing the Washington Monument, Robert Mills has been very influential in the architecture of South Carolina. Mills fell in love with architecture early on in his life. He studied under James Hoban and Benjamin Henry Latrobe, gaining extensive knowledge of the Classical Revival style. Before returning to his native South Carolina, Mills designed and worked on many historic buildings in the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., areas. Later, he moved his family back to South Carolina and worked as the State Architect and Engineer for South Carolina. During this time, he designed 12 courthouses and the state’s asylum. Importantly, it was his training in the Classical Revival style that guided his architectural preferences. He was heavily influenced by Thomas Jefferson and believed the Classical Revival style signified the revitalization of the ancient republics. He further felt that this architecture represented the birth of a new nation following the Revolutionary War.

As we study the life of Robert Mills in a discussion led by William S. Davies, we will uncover the deep ties and impact of the Revolutionary War on the architecture of South Carolina. More importantly, we will have the opportunity to more fully understand the motivations and intentions of one of South Carolina’s most famous architects, as interpreted by well-known historian William S. Davies.

A prominent figure in this field of research, Davies focuses his presentation on Mills’ historic relationships to South Carolina. Davies was a partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP for 34 years and practiced law in Columbia, S.C. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the Citadel. Currently, Mr. Davies is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society, the Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie Historical Trust, the Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society, the South Carolina Archives & History Foundation, the Charleston Museum, the South Carolina State Museum and the Sons of the American Revolution, just to name a few. While his resume is impressive, we will have the opportunity to learn from Mr. Davies in an intimate setting, allowing for questions and conversation.

Please join us on July 26th for a glass of wine, refreshments, and conversation – and enriching experience for the mind and body. Tickets are on sale now for this fabulous event. You can purchase tickets on our website Historicbeaufort.org, by phone (842) 379-3331, or by coming into our office at 208 Scotts Street, Beaufort, S.C. We are limiting occupancy, so get your tickets soon! Please also support HBF partner and “Dinner and a Lecture” sponsor Saltus River Grill. Lecture attendees receive a 10% discount on dinner following the lecture when they present their lecture tickets.