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Michael Ching
Jorge Parodi
Howard Watkins

SAVANNAH, GA – March 30, 202 – Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) has announced the expansion of its Board of Directors to include three new, distinctly talented members–Michael Ching, Jorge Parodi and Howard Watkins. Michael Ching is the Composer in Residence for the Savannah VOICE Festival. Howard Watkins and Jorge Parodi are part of the faculty at SVF’s sister organization, VOICExperience Foundation, where they offer piano, coaching and conducting. Parodi and Watkins have also been musical contributors to SVF for many years, having worked on productions including Romeo and Juliet, Pagliacci and Traviata with The Savannah Opera Company. Michael Ching and Howard Watkins also serve on the Savannah VOICE Festival Diversity committee.

“It’s essential for SVF’s Board of Directors to genuinely reflect the marvelous diversity of our Savannah community,” said Co-founder and Executive Director Maria Zouves. “We’re excited to welcome these three, fantastic artists and educators, whom we have worked with for many years, to help us serve SVF’s mission of creating a unique destination for music lovers both locally and globally!” 

An opera composer/librettist, conductor, and songwriter, Michael Ching is the composer/librettist of the opera SPEED DATING TONIGHT! With nearly one hundred productions since its 2013 premiere at the Janiec Opera of the Brevard Music Center, SPEED DATING TONIGHT! is one of the most popular operas of the 21st century. His most recent project, ALL DRESSED UP (No Place to Go) for L’arietta Productions in Singapore, includes nine quarantine-related songs which are now part of SPEED DATING TONIGHT! His newest opera, RSBE, had its premiere at the University of Alabama in 2020. In 2018-2019, two new one act operas had their premieres, THRIVERS, at Palm Springs Opera Guild, and EIGHT WOODS AND A VAN, at the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. Additional shorter operas in 2018-19 included BIRTHDAY CLOWN at the Savannah Voice Festival and COMPLETING THE PICTURE for Utah Opera’s commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. As Composer-in-Residence of Savannah Voice Festival, Michael wrote ALICE RYLEY (2015) and ANNA HUNTER (2017) two works with Savannah subjects. Other works include SLAYING THE DRAGON and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, opera a cappella, recorded on Albany Records. Michael’s other well-known opera is BUOSO’S GHOST.  BUOSO is a comic sequel to GIANNI SCHICCHI. Recently, BUOSO was performed at the Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Delaware. In 2021, Savannah Voice Festival will premiere his CENERENTOLA sequel, A ROYAL FEAST. Ching lives with his family in Ames, Iowa.

Jorge Parodi was born in Argentina, and has worked extensively in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Recent credits include Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro for Opera Tampa, Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires for New York City Opera, The Atlanta Opera and Opera Grand Rapids, Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia and Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi for Buenos Aires Lírica (Argentina), Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for the Castleton Festival in Virginia and The Banff Centre (Canada), Offenbach’s Les contes dHoffmann for Opera Orlando; Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges for The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center and the World Premiere of Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt, the latest opera by John Musto –a coproduction of On Site Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago Lyric’s Unlimited and Pittsburg Opera. Upcoming engagements include his return to The Atlanta Opera and Opera Tampa, and his debut at Chautauqua Opera.  Parodi has been reviewed as having “the most expressive conducting hands since Stokowski” by the New York Daily News. Parodi has also worked with such companies as the Teatro Colón in Argentina, the Volgograd Opera in Russia, the Encuentros Internacionales de Opera in Mexico, the Tokyo International Vocal Arts Academy in Japan and the International Vocal Arts Institute in Israel. He has collaborated with such artists as Isabel Leonard, Eglise Gutierrez, Tito Capobianco, Sherrill Milnes, Aprile Millo and Rufus Wainwright and has assisted conductors Lorin Maazel and Julius Rudel, among others. Parodi is also the Music Director of the Senior Opera Theatre at the Manhattan School of Music, where he has led its productions to critical acclaim.

American pianist, Howard Watkins, is a frequent associate of some of the world’s leading musicians on the concert stage, and an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. His appearances throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, Russia, and Israel have included collaborations with Joyce DiDonato, Diana Damrau, Kathleen Battle, Grace Bumbry, Mariusz Kwiecień, Anna Netrebko, and Matthew Polenzani, as well as violinists Xiang Gao and Sarah Chang at such venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Spivey Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the United States Supreme Court, Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the three stages of Carnegie Hall, and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. He has accompanied the classes of legendary artists Renata Scotto, Frederica von Stade, Régine Crespin, Birgit Nilsson, Sherrill Milnes, and George Shirley. Watkins has served on the faculties of the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Mannes School of Music, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the International Vocal Arts Institute (Israel, Japan, and China), IIVA in Italy, the Brancaleoni Music Festival in Italy, the Tokyo International Vocal Arts Academy (TIVAA), and VOICExperience in Orlando, Tampa, and Savannah. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Watkins completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in accompanying and chamber Music at the University of Michigan. In 2004, he received the Paul C. Boylan award from the University of Michigan for his outstanding contributions to the field of music, and a special achievement award from the National Alumni Association of the University of Dayton.

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.

For more information about the Savannah VOICE Festival please visit

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