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Opera Alumni Return to Loyola New Orleans for Christmas Special

Loyola press release - November 8, 2016

Just in time for Christmas, young opera alumni from across the nation launch world premiere at Loyola

Ring in the holiday season this year with a humorous look through the eyes of children in “Letters to Santa.” The concert is part of Loyola’s acclaimed Montage Fine and Performing Arts Series, and will take place on Friday Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium, located in Monroe Hall at Loyola, 6363 St. Charles Ave.

The new song cycle “Letters to Santa” is an enchanting look through the eyes of children, as they write their touching letters to Santa Claus. Composed by Loyola alumnus Logan Skelton ‘83, the mini-concert captures Skelton’s engaging and fresh musical style and features Loyola young alumni-turned-opera stars Emma Grimsley ‘14, soprano; David Castillo ‘10, baritone; and Claire Shackleton ‘06, mezzo-soprano.

"I am touched as I look forward to ‘Letters to Santa,’ because the singers who will be performing had a close relationship with my husband Phil Frohnmayer, the beloved voice teacher at Loyola who passed away three years ago. In his honor, the Frohnmayer Legacy Fund was established, by his students, to support the Loyola Opera Theater Workshop, as we train the opera singers of the future,” said Ellen Frohnmeyer, an associate professor of voice who holds the university’s Charles Anthony Caruso Distinguished Professorship of Opera. “This concert is a thank-you gift to the donors to the Frohnmayer Legacy Fund, because after all, Santa Claus represents the Spirit of Giving.”

The mini-concert will be followed by a holiday party reception to meet the composer and artists.

The concert is free and open to the public, and thanks to the generous donors to the Frohnmayer Legacy Fund, which supports Loyola's young singers and their opera performances. Free parking for all Montage events is located in the West Road Garage. This concert is not recommended for children under 12.

Soprano Emma Grimsley graduated from Loyola University New Orleans in 2014 with a BA in English and minors in Music and Women’s Studies. While here, she studied voice with beloved professor Phil Frohnmayer. Following graduation, Grimsley made her Off-Broadway debut as Barbara Conti in ¡Figaro 90210 at the Duke Theater and spent summer 2016 as a Young Artist at The Glimmerglass Festival. She will perform with Nashville Opera as Young Alyce in Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied in November, and in February she will appear as Johanna in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with New Orleans Opera.

Mezzo-soprano Claire Shackleton completed her Master of Music Degree at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music in 2009. While at CCM, her roles included Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos and Dorabella in Così fan Tutte, as well as concert performances of Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Shackleton completed her Bachelor of Music degree at Loyola University New Orleans, where she appeared as Tessa in The Gondoliers and won the 2007 Concerto/Aria Competition. She was named Young Artist of the Year at Central City Opera in 2013 and has received awards from the Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year Competition and the Franco-American Vocal Academy Grand Concours de Chant. Shackleton has made recent appearances with Hawaii Opera Theatre singing Hermia in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, New Orleans Opera singing Mercédès in Carmen and Jefferson Performing Arts Society singing Maddelena in Rigoletto.

Baritone David Castillo is a Los Angeles-based artist and the Creative Director of Jukebox Castle, a New Orleans-based arts organization that fuses music, culinary arts, visual arts, dance, and mixology into immersive events. The New Orleans native debuted in world premieres with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Master Chorale, and The Industry. He made his European debut in Paris performing Schubert’s Winterreise with pianist Francois Chouchan in honor of Dr. Elsa Cayat, the only woman killed in the Charlie Hebdo shootings. This season’s highlights include world premieres with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Industry, and Loyola New Orleans, as well as a debut with The Cleveland Orchestra in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. He received his Master of Music degree from the University of Southern California – Thornton and his bachelor’s degree in music from Loyola University New Orleans. He is a graduate of Jesuit High School New Orleans and has long performed with New Orleans Opera and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

In August 2015, Castillo and fellow opera singers appeared on America’s Got Talent, performing a cappella in an all-male group, VOX.

Loyola University New Orleans is a Catholic, Jesuit university located in the heart of the picturesque Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. For more than 100 years, Loyola has helped shape the lives of its students, as well as the history of the city and the world, through educating men and women in the Jesuit traditions of academic excellence and service to others. Loyola’s more than 40,000 graduates serve as catalysts for change in their communities as they exemplify the comprehensive, values-laden education received at Loyola.

Located within Loyola’s College of Music and Fine Arts, Loyola’s acclaimed Film and Music Industry Studies Department, which prepares aspiring musicians, singers, performers, directors, producers, crafts, and industry executives for entrepreneurial success in the creative professions. CMFA also includes Loyola’s School of Music, a conservatory in which professional musicians are trained in a rich academic environment, and where students can roam the halls and converse with Grammy Award winners and internationally renowned musicians.

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