Vocal performance freshman wins Music International Grand Prix Competition


Julia Ernst started her year with a big win–the Music International Grand Prix Competition. A freshman in Loyola’s Opera program, Julia is grateful for the opportunity presented by her vocal coach Irini Kyriakidou. Photo credit: Maria Paula Marino

Mia Oliva

Ranked and accomplished by her classification to the Music International Grand Prix Competition, Julia Ernst proves big things are coming up for her. She has credited her success and inspiration to how Loyola’s remarkable vocal instructor, Irini Kyriakidou, guided and inspired her throughout the process.

Just this past month, the , freshman vocal performance singer came out with a triumphant win that advanced her to the competition’s semifinals.

The Music International Grand Prix Competition will be held in Washington, D.C at the end of April. That competition will determine if Ernst advances to the finals.

Ernst said she is grateful for her vocal coach’s encouragement and guidance.

“I am very thankful to Irini for suggesting that I audition. She is such an incredible mentor and I trust all of her suggestions and feedback. I feel so lucky to be in her studio,” said Ernst. “Little did I know I would advance to the semifinals from the videos submitted, and then go on to a live Zoom audition where I sang in the living room at home to win the Midwest Region.”

Her personal and professional goals are being determined during the time she studies at Loyola.

“I find that I am most successful when I break down my goals into small increments. I try to focus on what is in front of me tomorrow and next week, and not get too caught up in what could happen months from now. That helps me in a lot of areas of my life, but especially with any vocal competition,” said Ernst.

Taking things one step at a time is no big deal for her, especially in terms of the pandemic and navigating through college for the first time.

Ernst has remained hopeful throughout the process. She’s maintained optimistic and confident in her endeavors while still acknowledging the talent she’s competing with.

However, Ernst said she would be honored to represent Loyola’s School of Music if she were to make it to the finals. Ernst finds out if she qualifies for the finals by the end of March.

Competition aside, Ernst is excited about her upcoming projects and performances here at Loyola.

She is eagerly anticipating her upcoming opera production of Dido and Aeneas with Loyola.

“I have loved being able to watch the process of my first opera scene and have learned so much from my incredibly talented cast mates. Loyola will be posting a YouTube link to the performances, and it’s a must see,” said Ernst.

The transition from high school to undergrad during a pandemic has motivated Ernst to remain positive and has allowed her to reflect on the opportunities she’s been provided with, even during trying times.

“It was very easy to be complacent and not practice when I was a senior in high school when everything shut down and my first year of college has not been the experience I expected,” said Ernst, “But there is always a way to find joy, and I have chosen to focus on that.”

Ernst gave her thanks to Loyola’s School of Music and the perseverance it has instilled in her and fellow artists.

“I can only imagine how amazing the Loyola School of Music experience will be when things get back to normal, because I already love it even during a shutdown. I have learned to be grateful for the arts and cannot wait to see what everyone accomplishes when we are able to make music together again,” said Ernst.

Director of Vocal Performance at Loyola’s School of Music, Margaret Frazier congratulated Ernst and Irini Kyriakidou, Ernst’s vocal coach.

“I am thrilled for Julia, and I congratulate her and her wonderful teacher, Prof. Irini Kyriakidou, on this achievement. It’s always gratifying when students do well in competition, and I’m excited to see what Julia’s future holds,” said Frazier.