A woman flirtatiously jumping in men's laps. Another woman gyrating like an Egyptian slave and Polynesian luau dancer.

A man who starts singing in the hall outside the performance venue, to eventually enter and continue the famous aria from "The Barber of Seville."

These are a few of the many treats that I experienced at the first public performance of the Savannah Voice Festival. The event was called "Death, by Aria." Confusing title, as I was inspired and invigorated by the many wonderful performances in the Westin Grand Ballroom.

The Savannah VOICE Festival is an intensive educational/performance program in its first year here in Savannah. The participants work with some of the top professionals in opera and musical theater, including Maria Zouves, executive director, and Sherrill Milnes, artistic director.

The artists attend master classes and voice lessons, working on material and a repertoire both original and traditional. It all culminates in public performances that are open to the Savannah public for a nominal fee.

It is both educational and opportunistic for the participants, and it's wonderful that we get to experience the benefits. It truly will be a great mid-summer treat for any music lover.

Let's get back to "Death, by Aria." The performers were all young adults, college-age and older. But though I believe they are at the beginning of their careers, the amount of talent displayed was impressive. The material ranged from Verdi to Ravel, Rogers and Hammerstein to Schönberg (actually Claude-Michel Schönberg, who wrote "Les Miserables").

Many of the performances were spectacular, both by singer and accompanist. Selections were serious to comic, tragic to thought-provoking. Live music is not dead - it is burgeoning here in Savannah, and this festival is another great addition.

I encourage all of you to attend one of the many events that will be going on until Aug. 17. Go to www.savannahvoicefestival.org for a complete listing.

Next week, I'll be reviewing "Listen To My Heart," featuring David Friedman, Broadway/Disney composer and conductor.

Hope to see you there!

Kim Douglas Steiner works in the performance arts department at SCAD. He recently moved to Savannah from New York City, where he was a Broadway music director and pianist.