SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The American Traditions Vocal Competition is a Savannah staple but due to the pandemic, the future of what the competition will look like next year is unknown. The organization did find a way to bring some music back to town, though.
Near the Skidaway River, it was a night filled with music trying to forget about the pandemic but the masks are a reminder of how much harder gatherings can be right now.
“The bigger picture out of all of this is finding a way for people to still come together and to enjoy a music experience and enjoy fellowship in an outdoor space with masks so that they feel comfortable and safe,” Artistic Director, Mikki Sodergren said.
The competition asks each vocalist who come from around the world to prepare nine songs for a full week of competition. The catch is that each song has to be by an American songwriter and no genre of American music can be repeated in their whole program. The top prize is $12,000 and a paid contract with the Savannah Philharmonic.
The American Traditions Vocal Competition held its first porch party to fundraise for the 28th annual singing event next February. The spectacle went off without a hitch this year two weeks ahead of COVID-19 but now its back to the drawing board.
“We’re not exactly sure how it’s going to look but determined to hold it for the 28th year,” Sodergren said.
Sara Zoe Budnik, a USO Show Troupe member, and a 2020 ATC semifinalist performed at the event Friday night. She said when all else fails music speaks.
“I haven’t performed since February so its really fun to flex this muscle again and I think it’s really important for people right now,” Budnik said.
Patriotic music is her genre of choice and it’s fitting for this 4th of July weekend. Budnik’s hope is to unify everyone in this night of music and forget about these troubling times.
“There’s nothing like singing somebody’s military song and watching them stand up in the audience just proud to hear their song,” Budnik said.
Back to the competition, Sodergren remains hopeful many singers will get to sing another note on that stage again.
“Obviously our hope is that there is a vaccine and we can all go back to normal starting in 2021 but realistically thinking that there’s not we’re hoping that we can have a competition via live stream or via limited audience,” Sodergren said.
The organization will be entertaining the community this weekend hosting a free concert Saturday at noon in Calhoun Square in downtown Savannah. They say the event will be completely distanced.