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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

From Church to Carnegie Hall

University of Dayton senior Gabriella “Gigi” Klotz went from singing in church to performing opera at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall.

Klotz, a music performance major from Milwaukee, started singing lessons at age 16 and has since realized her passion for music. After transferring to the University of Dayton after one semester at a school in Manhattan, Klotz immediately knew she made the right decision.

“I felt like UD rolled out the red carpet for me,” Klotz said. “I’ve performed more because of this university in the middle of the Midwest then I ever did in New York, the performing capital of the world.”

At the University of Dayton, Klotz has about 15 performance opportunities each semester. Her first came a month after she arrived and was with the Dayton Jazz Ensemble in the Kennedy Union ballroom. Now in her final semester, she has sung at Carnegie Hall, several venues in Prague and Dayton’s Schuster Performing Arts Center with the Dayton Opera. In April 2018, she was a finalist in the Lima Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition.

Klotz’s favorite undergraduate performance opportunity was in 2018, when she participated in a four-week summer program in Prague. While on the trip, she received standing ovations in multiple sold-out opera productions. She also had the opportunity to perform at the Estates Theatre — where Mozart conducted the premiere of Don Giovanni.

“I can’t believe that I got to perform where people like Mozart performed,” she said. “I am taken aback by the experience and all that I learned in one month from that program. I want everyone to be able to experience that, because it doesn’t happen every day.”

Singing opera has given Klotz the opportunity to become immersed in multiple languages, including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Czech, all traditional opera languages. She will sing in five languages during her senior recital at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Jesse Philips Humanities Center’s Sears Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

“Music is a universal language and it is so special that you can communicate through it,” Klotz said. “People all over the world listen to music, whether it’s jazz, opera, pop or other styles of  music.”

Klotz is thankful for her family’s support. Growing up in Milwaukee, she sang duets with her sister, accompanied by their mother. With a German family heritage, Klotz’s life dream is to sing opera in Munich. Her grandmother, who grew up going to the opera in Germany, was able to watch Klotz sing in March 2018 at Carnegie Hall, in a performance sponsored by the University.

“Singing at Carnegie Hall at 20-years-old was the best prize,” she said. “Not many people can say they’ve sung there at such a young age.”

Carnegie Hall is a 128-year-old theater that has welcomed artists such as The Beatles, Tchaikovsky — and Klotz. She received the opportunity after placing in a video singing competition, and sang alongside students of all ages from all over the world. Knowing the renowned artists who stood on the same stage, Klotz is still humbled by the opportunity.

In May 2018, she sang in the chorus of the Dayton Opera’s production of Turandot on the Schuster Center stage, along with three other University students, through the Dayton Opera Apprenticeship program. The program, a partnership between the Department of Music and the Dayton Opera, provides opportunities for students who are nominated for audition by faculty. She received course credit for participation.

After she graduates in May 2019, Klotz will attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University to pursue a master’s degree in music. Roosevelt awarded her an assistantship for study.

“I am so excited for the next step in my life and my career, but it all went too fast,” she said. “I have a deep love for the University of Dayton and the music department. Coming here was the best decision I made.”

She is thankful for her relationships with University faculty and for the opportunities they have given her. Students in the music department often form close relationships with faculty, especially the teachers with whom they have their weekly individual lessons, said Julia Randel, associate professor and chair of the Department of Music. This allows faculty to see and develop a student’s potential, sometimes in directions the student did not expect.   

One of the great things about students in our department is that they feel a real sense of ownership and pride in the department,” Randel said. “I think that comes from the close relationships they have with faculty and from the strong sense of community the music students have with each other. It makes them want to reach out to prospective students and share with them what makes music at UD special, and bring them into the family. Gigi has really been a leader in that.”

Randel is proud of Klotz’s accomplishments at the University and is excited to see where her career takes her.

“I completely realized my passions because of this school,” Klotz said. “All of my professors have helped me right along with performing opportunities on and off campus, in training opportunities, master classes and summer programs.”

- Ashley Junkunc ’21

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