Junior music major Lainie Ewers performs during Brenau University's Honors Convocation on April 15. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Music major Lainie Ewers wins Georgia Symphony Orchestra talent competition

Jun 25, 2021
Michael Lowe

For Brenau University junior music major Lainie Ewers, the Georgia Symphony Orchestra’s Virtual to Center Stage talent competition has been a rollercoaster of crescendos — and a rollercoaster she initially didn’t even know she was on.

On Friday, June 18, Ewers was named the winner of the competition, which includes a top prize of performing with the GSO during its upcoming season. The vocalist from Gainesville, Georgia, said her mother submitted a video of her performing Alessandro Scarlatti’s Le Violette for the first round of internal judging in March. While her mother eventually mentioned it in passing, Ewers said she did not think much of it at the time.

“A couple of weeks later, my mom ran into the room and said, ‘Lainie! Lainie! You made it to the next round!’ and I said, ‘Of what?’” Ewers recalled. “I was very confused.”

That confusion quickly turned to excitement as Ewers and her family began spreading the word to vote in the contest, which included two rounds of public voting on Facebook and YouTube. After that, the five finalists had to submit new performances — Ewers went with Handel’s Care Selve — and a panel of celebrity judges selected the overall winner and runner-up.

Ewers, whose dream is to one day perform with the Atlanta Opera, said she was moved by the response of family, friends and the Gainesville and Brenau communities throughout the process.

“It’s just such an overwhelming feeling of joy to know that everyone has been so supportive,” Ewers said. “Brenau has been such a loving place. Everyone here has nurtured me and helped me to grow into the performer that I am today, and they are the reason why I pushed so hard and eventually won this competition.”

Ewers said she is especially grateful for the support of Brenau’s music faculty. She has been passionate about music since the eighth grade and has only had that love grow thanks to teachers and professors like Barbara Steinhaus, chair of Brenau’s Music Department.

“Through my work with Lainie for the past two years, I have seen her successfully wrestle with a challenging Bach duet, reach artistically to conquer Handel arias, and this April she performed one of the strongest sophomore barriers in my 13 years at Brenau University,” Steinhaus said.

Brenau President Anne Skleder said she is looking forward to Ewers’ performance with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra.

“We are all so proud of Lainie for this wonderful accomplishment,” said Skleder, who reached out to congratulate Ewers on her win. “Lainie’s talent and dedication to her craft represent the best of Brenau and are a reflection of the Brenau’s incredible performing arts programs and faculty.”

The Virtual to Center Stage competition was open to singers, dancers and musicians at least 8 years old who reside in Georgia. According to the contest website, finalists were judged on the quality of their performance, including ability, range, expression, showmanship, uniqueness and preparation.

Read more about Brenau University’s music programs at brenau.edu/music. For more about the GSO and Virtual to Center Stage competition, visit georgiasymphony.org.