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Beline Obeid

Two Grosse Pointers in national music contest

July 18, 2013
Two Grosse Pointe musicians are competing in the National Federation of Music Clubs, young artists division, at the end of the month.

Angela Theiss of Grosse Pointe Woods competes in the women’s voice competition while Ivan Moshchuk has entered the pianist division. The winner receives a $15,000 prize in a June contest. Monetary prizes are awarded for second and third place, as well.

Theiss is a Grosse Pointe North High School graduate and earned degrees in marketing and music from the University of Notre Dame. She graduated from the New England Conservatory in Boston with a Master of Music degree.

Since her graduation, Theiss has performed with the Utah Opera as its resident artist, 2010 to 2011, and received a fellowship to study in Salzburg, Austria. Returning to Michigan in 2012, Theiss joined the Michigan Opera Theatre, landing the role of Barbarina in the “Marriage of Figaro,” singing soprano. She also has performed as a freelance artist, singing in Oregon, Virginia and New York. Following her appearance at the music clubs’ competition in Greenville, S.C., she travels to Graz, Austria, for the summer opera program.

The journey to the semifinals of the competition began in January. By April the competition had been narrowed to seven females who will perform, as Theiss said, “a lot of music.”

She said she is preparing a 70-minute recital and hiring a local pianist to accompany her.

“I sent the music in last month. I have a variety of different languages and styles — Schubert, Strauss, American contemporary songs, Mozart,” she said of her musical selections.

Judges, Theiss said, are looking for a wide variety of music and styles in her five pieces, four from operas and an oratorio. The latter is from “Voices of Light,” a 20th century musical composition inspired by the silent film, “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”

Additionally, every piece must be memorized whether it’s in German, French, Latin, Italian or English.

Should the 27-year-old win the semi-final round, she performs again, with an entirely new repertoire and a different gown.

“I’ll be traveling with three gowns, for the semi-final, for the final and winner,” she said.

She also will be traveling with her voice teacher and mentor, Dina Winter, and her husband.

“I’m looking forward to this performance,” Theiss said.

Moshchuk also is preparing a 70-minute program for his competition. His classic selections include Brahms, Bach and Chopin and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 will be Moshchuk’s final number.

“This is the final round,” he said.

Though Russian born, Moshchuk is a 2009 Grosse Pointe South High School graduate and just graduated from the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, majoring in piano performance.

Moshchuk, of Grosse Pointe Farms, learned of the competition when “a few people came up to me saying I should apply and I would be a strong candidate.”

The entry went to the back of his mind as he finished his senior year and traveled for performances across the country learning in April he had been selected as a finalist. Since graduation and returning home, he said he has been practicing on his Steinway — a medium-sized grand piano.

“It’s my favorite piano,” he said. “We bought it about 10 years ago in Chicago.”

Having looked in Michigan for just the right piano, they sought out a store in Chicago whose owner tuned pianos for Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz. Seeing a piano in the store’s basement and not yet ready for sale, Moshchuk said, he knew that was the one.

“Pianos are like human beings. They are very different and have a personality,” he said.

Moshchuk took up the piano after listening to his older brother, Alexander, who graduated from South in 1999.

“My older brother played and I loved it,” Moshchuk said.

In college, he studied both music and science and found the former more demanding but more to his interests. Since then he has been touring the country and now in a national competition.

Following that Moshchuk, 22, has scheduled a concert in Bloomfield Hills, an international competition in Bolzano, Italy, and a year of residency in Paris.

Though he is intent about becoming an artist on the international stage, he said he is also passionate about musical outreach and becoming an advocate for the arts in education.

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