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Loyola Freshman Wins Regional International Voice Competition 

By Loyola University on Thu, 02/04/2021 - 15:27

Julia Ernst of Mandeville shines as she takes first place, performing arias by Mozart and Massenet

(New Orleans – February 4, 2020) – Loyola University New Orleans freshman Julia Ernst of Mandeville, La., placed first this month in the Midwest Semifinals of the Music International Grand Prix Competition. Now, she’s waiting to see if she will be a finalist and compete in New York City.

A vocal performance major in Loyola’s acclaimed College of Music and Media, Julia studies classical music with internationally heralded Greek opera star Irini Kyriakidou, a member of the faculty at Loyola.

“I am so grateful for the immense support and training I am receiving at Loyola,” said Julia, 19. “Irini not only coached me during my weekly lessons, but also helped me to choose the repertoire for each round. I am so thankful I took her advice and auditioned.”

For the competition’s quarter finals, Julia performed “Lascia ch’io pianga,” an Italian aria composed by George Frideric Handel, from the opera, Rinaldo. On Saturday, Jan. 30, she sang “Smanie implacabilli,” an Italian aria composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from the opera, Cosi Fan Tutte, and “Va! laisse couler mes larmes,” a French aria composed by Jules Massenet from the opera, Werther, to win the Midwest Semifinals.

The Music International Grand Prix Competition is a new international competition for musicians of all ages from all over the world: Asia, Europe, Australia, Canada and the US.  The Inaugural 2021 Season includes Voice (Classical and Popular), Piano, Strings, Woodwinds and Brass.

“Julia is an exceptionally talented singer with vocal maturity and great artistry,” Kyriakidou said. “Placing in an International Competition at her age is a huge achievement and speaks volumes about her talent. Her future is a bright one, and we are more than thrilled to have her as a member of our Wolf Pack.”

Kyriakidou underscored the rigor and demands placed on opera singers during their training - and the value of being able to compete in an international competition alongside peers from around the world.  

“Through these competitions, young singers gain valuable feedback and extra motivation to practice and improve their skills. This is especially hard to find during the challenges of a pandemic.”

Julia will find out March 28 if her first place scores are high enough to warrant an invitation to the final round, held in New York City on April 30. The winner’s concert is at Carnegie Hall on May 1. She has already started working on a new repertoire, just in case that coveted invitation to compete in the final round and potentially sing at Carnegie Hall should occur.

A graduate of Archbishop Hannan High School in Covington, Julia is a mezzo-soprano. She started singing at age seven and began formally taking voice lessons at age 12. She has been in love ever since. 

In 2017, Julia was accepted into the International Performing Arts Institute Opera Program in Kiefersfelden, Germany, a program for college students pursuing studies in Opera and Musical Theater. She was the youngest person and the only high school student accepted to the international program. She studied there two summers in a row. 

In 2019, Julia won the New Orleans Opera Association’s Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition. In a recent video, she spoke about her love of opera, missing live performances during the pandemic -- and her decision to study at Loyola New Orleans, after applying to a dozen universities with voice programs. 

“I just fell in love with the environment at Loyola and the vocal faculty and my teacher, she said. “Once I opened my eyes, the decision was very clear on where my new home was and where I was meant to be.” 

She feels especially proud of her decision this week. 

“Loyola has been supportive and nurturing for me as a freshman in college. At the same time, I have been challenged and being surrounded by tremendously talented artists has pushed me to new heights,” she said. “Loyola School of Music is truly a remarkable place and I am so proud to represent our university in this competition. Making it to the semifinals and winning the Midwest Region was a dream come true.” 

See Julia’s award-winning performance of “Smanie implacabilli,” an Italian aria composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from the opera, Cosi Fan Tutte.