The American Traditions Vocal Competition: 2/20-24

| January 23, 2017

The American Traditions Vocal Competition

February 20-24, 2017
Savannah, GA

Michael Maliakel 2016 ATC Gold Medal winner

Michael Maliakel
2016 ATC Gold Medal winner

The American Traditions Vocal Competition (ATC) returns for its highly anticipated 24th season from February 20-24, 2017. With a stellar line up of contestants selected from an unprecedented number of applications, this year’s performances are sure to be of the highest quality.

This year will bring one returning judge as well as two new judges, and a new pianist. The new judges are Sylvia McNair – opera and musical theater star who is considered to be one of the leading interpreters of the Great American Songbook, and Andrew Lippa – American composer, lyricist, bookwriter, performer, and producer. They join distinguished baritone Kurt Ollmann, who returns to the panel for a second year. Pianist Dan Gettinger will join the ATC 2017 season with veteran ATC pianists Annastasia Victory and Wilson Southerland.

Dr. Bill Lavonis, who made his professional singing debut at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra, will emcee this year’s competition. He holds degrees in voice, opera and musical theater and has performed over 100 leading and supporting roles in opera and musical theater throughout the United States.

The nonprofit ATC, established as a world-renowned vocal competition, based in Savannah, celebrates standard, classic American music. The vocal contest evolved from Savannah Onstage, which was established in 1992 and was the predecessor of the Savannah Music Festival. It attracts internationally acclaimed artists, judges and accompanists by offering significant prizes to the winning singers. The ATC is also committed to a program of community outreach throughout the year and a free Master Class is part of every February’s competition week.

The 2017 competition kicks off at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20 with the Judges’ Concert at Skidaway Island United Methodist Church, 54 Diamond Causeway. Guests will enjoy the evening with a performance by the ATC judges.

At 4 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 and Wednesday, Feb. 22, the 28 quarterfinalists will perform three songs each in the hopes of advancing to the semifinals. The first half of the contestant pool competes on Tuesday, and the remaining contestants will put it all on the line Wednesday.

The twelve artists who are selected from the quarterfinal rounds will sing their next set of three songs at the semifinals, slated for 4 and 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb 23.

The cream of the crop will compete for top honors and prizes during the finals at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.

This year’s contest also will include an outreach Master Class, slated for 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24. This class provides ATC fans and supporters with an opportunity to watch the three ATC judges in action as they each work with one selected quarter or semi-finalist to demonstrate their different styles of teaching.

Each ATC applicant must choose nine songs, each from a different genre, and divide them up into three programs of three songs each. The competition focuses on two genre definitions: genres of style and genres of association. Established musical styles – such as blues, jazz, modern cabaret, opera, art song, folk, gospel, and country and western – and selected songs may fall into any one of those categories.

The association genre includes songs listed under classifications like musical theater, Hollywood, Great American Songbook and the songs of Johnny Mercer. Songs from these genres fall into any of the aforementioned styles and can be sung in different arrangements.

All 28 contestants chosen for the ATC will be awarded a cash prize. Every quarterfinalist receives $300 for being selected by the ATC and semifinalists each receive $600. The first-round quarterfinals are sponsored by Beckett and Jim Spreng, and Mary and Howard Morrison sponsor the second quarterfinals round, while Anne Lytle sponsors the third and fourth quarterfinal rounds. Alice and Bob Jepson are the semifinals sponsors.

The first-place ATC Gold Medal Award winner receives $12,000 and is sponsored by the Courtney Knight Gaines Foundation. The runner-up is awarded the Patricia and Heyward Gignilliat Silver Medal Award and receives $6,000. The third-place Bronze Medal Award of $3,000 is sponsored by EnMark Stations, Inc. The fourth prize of $1,200 and is donated by Kay and Don Gardner, and the fifth-place prize of $1,200 is given by the Savannah Friends of Music. The Johnny Mercer Award is presented for the best performance of a Johnny Mercer song, in either the quarterfinals or semifinals. This $750 award is presented by the Friends of Johnny Mercer, Inc. and Armstrong State University. New for 2017, The Sherill Milnes American Opera Award is presented for the best performance of an American opera aria in either the quarterfinals or semifinals and this winner receives $500. The $500 Ben Tucker Jazz Award is presented for the best performance of a jazz song in either the quarterfinal or semifinal rounds and is given by the David A. and Margaret L. Cohen Foundation. The Richard Chambless People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Swann Seiler, is given to a promising quarterfinalist and semifinalist who does not advance to the finals and is chosen by the audience. He or she receives $500.

To learn more about the ATC or to purchase tickets, please visit www.americantraditionscompetition.com or www.hostsouthes.com/atc/. Online ticket sales close four hours prior to the start of each event. For last-minute ticket purchases, please call the box office at The Savannah Theatre at 912-233-7764.


Jessica Baldwin
Jessica Ann Best

Melissa Brobeck
Alexis Cole
Grace Field
Katie Dixon
Stephen Dobson
Jonathan Estabrooks
Brian Giebler
Jocelyn Hansen
Gillian Hassert
Katherine Henly
Kisma Jordan
Amy Justman
Suzanne Lorge
Sarah Mesko
Aundi Marie Moore
Christia Nastasi
Brittany Proia
Megan Schubert
Rachel Sparrow
Brad Standley
Nikki Switzer
Dara Tucker
Brenda Marie Turner
Erica Everett
Missy Wise
Jordan Wolfe


Monday, February 20 – 7:00 p.m.

Skidaway Island UMC, 54 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, GA
$25 Concert only | $50 Includes after-party

Tuesday, February 21 – 4:00 & 7:00 p.m.

Skidaway Island UMC, 54 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, GA
$20 All-day pass

Wednesday, February 22 – 4:00 & 7:00 p.m.

Skidaway Island UMC, 54 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, GA
$20 All-day pass

Thursday, February 23 – 4:00 & 7:00 p.m.

Skidaway Island UMC, 54 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, GA
$30 All-day pass

Friday, February 24 – 3:00 p.m.

The Historic Savannah Theatre, 222 Bull Street, Savannah, GA
Free and open to the public.

Friday, February 24 – 8:00 p.m.

The Historic Savannah Theatre, 222 Bull Street, Savannah, GA
General Seating – $35 | Premium Seating – $50


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