After giving out more than $78,000 in scholarships this year, the Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs, which encompass the Savannah VOICE Festival and VOICExperience, seeks to help even more aspiring artists through two holiday-themed fundraisers.

The "Winter Wonderland Concert" at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at The Westin Savannah Harbor will feature secular holiday songs performed by festival artists. Tickets are $25, and a portion of net proceeds will benefit the Savannah Harbor Foundation, with remaining proceeds going to the Savannah VOICE Festival's Community Arts Outreach program.

"We are looking forward to singing songs of Southern holiday cheer with our audience. This evening will surely get everyone in the holiday spirit," said Savannah VOICE Festival executive director Maria Zouves.

"Pianist and arranger and musical director Dan Gettinger has a beautiful arrangement of winter holiday songs. I think it's going to be a treat."

Local composer and songwriter Jim Wann's song "Christmas in Savannah" will be performed at the concert.

"I keep hearing singers like the song and like the music," he says. For this event, the tune has been divided into four parts with choral arrangement by Gettinger, a pianist who works often with the American Traditions Vocal Competition. Wann is on the ATC's board of directors.

Wann says he's looking forward to hearing the song performed live again, and adds that the VOICE Festival is a "world-class organization - and voice is what they do. This is fun because I get to wear a composer hat and watch what they're doing."

A few days before the concert, "A Masked Ball: Verdi in Paris" will take place at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at festival supporter Helen Downing's Italianate mansion on Chippewa Square.

Guests are encouraged to dress in ball gowns and tuxedos for a dinner of French cuisine with a flavor of Parma, Italy, prepared by Savannah Chef Damon Lee Fowler. Festival artists will provide entertainment. Tickets are $225.

"People dress up and wear masks. A true masked ball that we're calling 'Verdi in Paris,'" Zouves says of the "extravagant, elegant" event.

Zouves also hopes guests see the ticket as an investment in Savannah's musical future. Along with scholarships, the nonprofit festival and its sister organization, the VOICExperience Foundation, offer outreach events in schools, retirement homes and for local charities; free educational events, teen workshops and master classes; partnerships with community arts organization; and ticket subsidies for the underserved.

"⦠Bringing in 100 or so singers, we're ready to give them scholarship money," she says, adding that the fund helps singers "come to Savannah and grow into careers, evolve as artists. Tuition scholarships are very important."


What: Savannah VOICE Festival's "Winter Wonderland Concert"

When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4

Where: The Westin Savannah Harbor, 1 Resort Drive, Hutchinson Island

Cost: $25


Also: "A Masked Ball: Verdi in Paris" is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at the home of Helen Downing in downtown Savannah. Formal ensemble, costumes and masks encouraged. Tickets are $225 and include dinner and performance. Proceeds support the VOICE Scholarship Fund.