Milnes Voice Programs Announces Leadership Expansion as Savannah Voice Festival Gears Up for 10th Anniversary

The Milnes VOICE Programs incorporating the Savannah VOICE Festival and the VOICExperience Foundation have announced an expansion of leadership within the organization: Sherrill Milnes, co-founder and artistic director and Maria Zouves, co-founder and executive director, will now become presidents and co-founders as they hand over their current roles to a new direction.

Executive responsibilities will be transferred to the former Education and Outreach Coordinator, Chad Sonka, who also sang and directed the program for many years, and the conductor and board member, Jorge Parodi, will take over as artistic director. Additionally, Lani Winskye remains Executive Director for a short term before taking on the new role of Education Director. Both Milnes and Zouves will remain significantly involved in the work of nonprofits, guiding and supporting the vision and initiatives of the new leadership.

This change of leadership coincides with SVF’s 10th anniversary year, which will take place in August. Maria Zouves, who co-founded the festival with her husband, world famous opera baritone Sherrill Milnes, looks forward to his new role and the evolution of the Milnes VOICE programs under Sonka and Parodi.

“Creating and promoting VOICExperience and the Savannah VOICE Festival has been a joy and an honor, and I thank everyone who has supported us over the years. Sherrill and I will always remain at the heart of the organization and we couldn’t be happier with the appointments of the very talented Jorge Parodi and Chad Sonka, as well as Lani Winskye’s invaluable new role in education. ”Zouves said. team is known and respected by artists and supporters, and I know that our community partners and patrons will once again be carried away by the year of SVF’s 10th anniversary. “

Internationally renowned conductor and now artistic director of the SVF, Jorge Parodi has worked extensively in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia with various and highly acclaimed opera companies and orchestras. Maestro Parodi is the General and Artistic Director of Opera Hispánica, and the Musical Director of the Williamsburg Opera House (Virginia) and the Senior Opera Theater at the Manhattan School of Music, where he has directed his productions to acclaimed critics. Mr. Parodi has been a faculty member at The Juilliard School for over a decade. He was recently appointed Music Director of the Morelia International Summer Opera Festival (Mexico), and he is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Summer Workshop of the Tokyo International Academy of Vocal Arts. He has worked regularly as a conductor and coach at VOICExperience and the Savannah VOICE Festival over the years.

Mr. Parodi expresses his enthusiasm for his new role: “I would like to thank the board of directors of the Sherrill Milnes VOICE programs for trusting me to fill the greatest shoes ever and continue the legacy of the great Sherrill Milnes as artistic director of VOICExperience and the Savannah VOICE Festival. It is with humble excitement that I accept this position, and I thank you for the opportunity to share this new chapter with the support of Sherrill and Maria, alongside my dear friend and new Executive Director, Chad Sonka. “

Chad Sonka stands out as a versatile American baritone, teacher and director. Most recently, he directed and sang the role of Alidoro at the world premiere of Michael Ching’s A Royal Feast, a sequel to Rossini’s La Cenerentola, with the Savannah VOICE Festival. He has performed as a solo baritone in Vaughan williams‘Dona Nobis Pacem at Carnegie Hall with Iowa State University and Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder with Oneota Valley Community Orchestra. He won first place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council – Iowa District auditions in 2017. Chad is an active vocal teacher and principal and is currently on the vocal faculty at Iowa State University. Directing credits include several stage programs, Cendrillon (Viardot), Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck) and Le Petit Prince (Portman). He previously served as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Sherrill Milnes VOICE programs.

Sonka is eager to take on her new role and is honored to have been nominated. “I have worked alongside Maria and Sherrill for the past few years, and it has been one of the great privileges of my career. I could not be more thrilled to take on this important role and continue their legacy over the course of this very special 10th anniversary season. I look forward to a season of community, talent, culture and fun. “

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