Phoenicia Festival of the Voice seeks youth choir, outlines this year’s plans

Festival of the Voice stage.

The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice is seeking kids 8-18 for a choir to perform at this summer’s staging of La Bohème on August 5. No audition is required to participate in a the free training process that will begin in May, culminating in an appearance on the outdoor stage in Phoenicia with Metropolitan Opera singers John Osborn and Lynette Tapia, Grammy Award winner Lucas Meachem, and other internationally acclaimed performers.

Voicefest executive director Maria Todaro recently announced highlights of this year’s event, to be held on August 4-6 and revolving around the theme of French culture. There will be tributes to cancan composer Jacques Offenbach, chanson stars Edith Piaf and Yves Montand, and other French musicians. Education, always a component of the festival, with internships and master classes, will ramp even higher this year with preparations for the La Bohème choir and a new format for the Young Artists Program, which grooms serious singers for careers in music.

The festival’s eighth season will include the world premiere of The Three Musketeers, adapted to opera for the first time by composer Mitchell Bach, a direct descendant of Johann Sebastian Bach. The Cambridge Singers, an impeccable a cappella choir, will return with a program celebrating France.


As usual, the festival will close with choral music, this year honoring jazz legend Duke Ellington in a celebration of the less known, spiritual elements of his body of work. Combining jazz, classical, gospel and more, percussionist John Lumpkin leads a septet featuring vocalists Brianna Thomas, who has collaborated with Wynton Marsalis, and Vuyo Sotashe, winner of the Mid-Atlantic, Shure Montreux, and Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocal Competitions.

The Saturday night opera is typically the centerpiece of the festival and draws well over 2000 people to sit under tents or out beneath the stars in Phoenicia’s Parish Field. La Bohème calls for the pure voices of a children’s choir, which will be organized and trained by Harvey Boyer, a music teacher in local elementary schools for many years and now the festival’s director of education. Kids 8 to 18 who enjoy singing are welcome to join. The ability to read music is not necessary. If interested, contact Boyer at

The Young Artists Program (YAP) is oriented towards emerging professionals in their 20s and early 30s. After auditions in New York City, four or five young musicians will be chosen to spend the week leading up to the festival taking master classes in Phoenicia, learning by participating in preparations, and rehearsing for events. They will sing in the opera choir, some will be covering roles in The Three Musketeers and in La Bohème, and all will sing in “The Spiritual Side of Duke.” Students are not charged for YAP but receive a small stipend.

Todaro said master classes, which will be open to the public to observe, will be led by respected professionals. Topics will include acting for singers, vocal technique, stage combat, repertoire coaching, career counseling, and fitness for singers. A unique class will address psychological issues professional singers face: the trauma of rejection, romantic attractions onstage, and other sticky emotions.


The 2017 Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice will be held in Phoenicia, August 4-6. Tickets, priced around $25 to $35, will go on sale May 1. For more information on the festival lineup, the Young Artists Program, or the children’s choir, visit