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NEW YORK CITY, NY – March 8, 2023 – The Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs announce the eighth annual VOICE Gala: A Lasting Legacy, slated for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at the Harmonie Club in New York City. This annual fundraiser supports education, outreach, and scholarships for the nonprofit organization. 

This event will be brimming with stars of the operatic world and be hosted by Milnes VOICE Programs Co-Founders and Presidents, Sherrill Milnes and Maria Zouves. This dinner performance will feature appearances by special guests and beloved VOICE artists of now and yesteryear. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the 2023 Milnes VOICE Award to renowned American tenor, George Shirley. Past honorees and frequent participants at the event include opera legends Martina Arroyo, James Morris, Denyce Graves, Neil Shicoff, Diana Soviero, Mignon Dunn, Frederica von Stade, and the late composer Carlisle Floyd.  

“We are thrilled to present George Shirley the 2023 Milnes VOICE award as we raise funds to support our training programs which we established over 20 years ago,” said Zouves.  

George Shirley’s career over five decades has taken him around the globe, performing in some of the world’s most iconic opera houses and concert halls.  He has performed more than 80 operatic roles in major opera houses with many of the world’s most renowned conductors. He has recorded for RCA, Columbia, Decca, Angel, Vanguard, CRI, and Philips and received a Grammy Award. In addition to oratorio and concert literature, Professor Shirley was the first African-American to be appointed to a high school teaching post in music in Detroit, the first African-American member of the United States Army Chorus in Washington, D.C., and the first African-American tenor and second African-American male to sing leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera, where he performed for eleven years. Mr. Shirley has served on three occasions as a master teacher in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Intern Program for Young NATS Teachers. He was also a member of the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School for ten years. 

Joining Milnes that evening will be the new leadership team of Executive Director, Chad Sonka, Artistic Director, Jorge Parodi, and Vice President of Operations, Lani Winskye. To learn more about the gala or the Milnes VOICE Programs or to support young artists, please visit or  

The mission of the Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs is to pass on the traditions of great singing and develop new audiences for opera.  Founded in 2001 as the VOICExperience Foundation, the programs now operate under the umbrella of the 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization in the state of Georgia, the Savannah VOICE Festival.  The programs are dedicated to the quality, integrity and perpetuation of the vocal arts through life-changing intensives, performances, and community-enriching outreach events across the nation and throughout the year.  The Savannah VOICE Festival was founded in 2013 and takes place every August with a two-week celebration of concerts, events and educational presentations. 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. 

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For media inquiries, please contact Allie Robinson at 912-547-3100 or, Kristyn Beasley at 229-393-6457 or,  or Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or