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New York City, New York – April 21, 2023 The Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs announced an exciting lineup of local events leading up to the annual gala on Wednesday, April 26. The events will include their annual “Opera Idol, a Scholarship Master class with Sherrill Milnes” on Monday, April 24 and a George Shirley Master class on Tuesday, April 25, which is free and open to the public.  Artists have the unique opportunity to strategize their career paths with industry professionals in a nurturing environment, and attendees experience valuable insight. The event will take place at 7:30pm at the National Opera Center, 330 7th Ave 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001. In this master class, the 2023 Milnes VOICE Awardee will share his experience and learning throughout his impressive opera career spanning over 45 years.  

Legendary tenor and the 2023 Sherrill Milnes VOICE Awardee George Shirley has recorded for RCA, Columbia, Decca, Angel, Vanguard, CRI, and Philips and received a Grammy Award in 1968 for his role (Ferrando) in the RCA recording of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. In addition to oratorio and concert literature, Mr. Shirley has, in a career that spans 49 years, performed more than 80 operatic roles in major opera houses around the globe with many of the world’s most renowned conductors. 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 remained 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.  

These events will take place before the anticipated eighth annual VOICE Gala: A Lasting Legacy, performed at the Harmonie Club in New York City on Wednesday April 26 at 6:00 p.m. This annual fundraiser supports education, outreach, and scholarships for the nonprofit organization. The gala 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 host this amazing lineup of events revolving around this year’s theme of Legacy, and in support of our training programs we established over 20 years ago” said Co-founder and President Maria Zouves. “It is an honor to have such renowned opera stars working with us and we are proud to fulfill our mission with a free master class.”  

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.  

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