Students are on break, but not all is quiet on the campus of Georgia Southern University this week.
Booming voices are ringing out of the college’s Foy Fine Arts Building, as men and women intent on becoming world-class singers have made their way to Statesboro for the rare chance to work with a collection of opera stars.
The rising performers have come from around the country to take part in an eight-day workshop hosted by The V.O.I.C.Experience Foundation, a non-profit organization designed to train and advance the career of aspiring classical vocalists.
Twenty young artists have worked, since March 9, with Grammy Award Winner and former Metropolitan Opera star Sherrill Milnes to hone their craft through multiple training sessions and master classes.
Milnes, along with fellow opera singer Diana Soviero and a group of professionally renowned friends are conducting the workshop, created as a means for singers to develop their talents and abilities, in the Statesboro and Savannah areas for the first time since the organization’s founding — the group has made stops in Chicago, Orlando and New York, among other cities.
“Hopefully the things we teach them here translate into a successful career. We want to move them up to another level of excellence,” said Milnes, who founded The V.O.I.C.Experience in 2001, after a prolific, 41-year career in the world of opera. “The program has gone very well. The participants have worked very hard. They have been busy, but have enjoyed themselves. They are really gobbling up the knowledge.”
The group of former and current opera performers and coaches has worked closely and diligently with the program’s participants — ranging from 25-year-old GSU graduate students to professionals in their early 30s — each day of the week, Milnes said.
“We are doing a whole host of performances, master classes and providing lots of coaching. We are enriching sounds, working languages, faces and eyes,” he said. “We are also teaching staging — moving on stage and how to make a piece effective. That is part of being a pro performer. (Opera) is absolutely a visual art as well.”
All of the work will culminate with “Beautiful Voices” concerts to be held on consecutive nights — one in Savannah Thursday night, and another tonight in the Carter Auditorium at Georgia Southern’s Foy Fine Arts Building.
The performances will showcase the artists’ talents and hopefully put on the display the knowledge acquired during recent days, Milnes said.
“It will be a fun program with powerhouse stuff,” he said, about the event at Georgia Southern. “The program will consist of a variety of musical performances as well as satirical, comedic skits.”
Admission to the event, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., will be free and open to the public, according to Tina A. Brown, a Public Relations official for the VOICE Workshop in Savannah and Statesboro.
Though, donations will be accepted at the door, she said.
The program and concert are being cosponsored by Georgia Southern University’s School of Music.
“This seemed like a natural fit to enhance our already strong opera and voice programs while providing a wonderful learning opportunity for aspiring singers and high quality vocal performances for the Statesboro and Savannah communities,” said Richard Mercier, Music Department Chair at Georgia Southern University, in a release.
“We are excited about this collaboration.”
For more information about the V.O.I.C.Experience program people can visit the workshop’s website at www.voicexperiencefoundation.com. For more information about the concert, call the Georgia Southern University Music Office at (912) 478-5396.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.