A 2009 graduate who has received international acclaim for his talents as a pianist will return to his alma mater this weekend to give a recital.
Ivan Moshchuk, who in 2010 received the Gilmore Young Artist Award recognizing the most promising U.S. pianist aged 22 and younger, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at South High School's auditorium.
The concert will feature Brahms’ Piano Pieces, Beethoven's Sonata in E Major, and Chopin's Prelude in C-sharp Minor and Sonata in B Minor. Moshchuk said the pieces were carefully selected to reflect to priorities and preoccupations of these great artists at the height of their abilities.
“All of these pieces are late pieces,” Moshchuck noted. “They were written very close to their deaths and that means they have certain qualities that distinguish them.” When the pieces were composed, he said, “the composers were very experienced and chose things to compose about that were most dear to them and important in life. It’s fascinating to see how different composers look at their lives when they come to the end.”
A native of Moscow, Moshchuk moved with his parents and brother to when he was four. At the age of five he began studying piano and excelled under the tutelage of Margarita Molchadskaya, a Bloomfield resident who had formerly taught at the central specialized school for gifted children at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory.
He studied privately while attending , and middle schools, and South, and became close to the music faculty at the high school despite not being part of the vocal or instrumental programs.
During his senior year, he decided to give a free recital in the South auditorium, where on a Friday night he regaled a large turnout with works by Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff.
It was a conversation last year with South vocal music director Ellen Bowen that prompted Moshchuk, who has been studying piano performance with Leon Fleisher and Brian Ganz at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, to decide to give a recital in Grosse Pointe.
“Grosse Pointe has no classical music series,” Moshchuk said. “We thought that this concert might help get something like that started here on a regular basis.”
They decided South’s auditorium “was most suitable for this type of performance,” Moshchuk said. Not only did it recall wonderful memories of his senior year recital, he said, but “it has wonderful acoustics. Not many people know that South’s auditorium is one of the best halls in Detroit.”
Noting that a principle challenge of concert pianists is the inability to travel with their instruments, Moshchuk said he’ll get used to the auditorium’s piano by playing for a few hours the day before and the day of the concert.
Moshchuk, who will play five concerts in Switzerland next May, has over the years performed at the International Music Academy in Plzen, Czech Republic, the School of Music Recital Hall in Columbia, S.C., Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall) in New York, Friedberg Hall in Baltimore, at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo and the Verbier Music Festival Verbier, Switzerland. He said his parents, who still live in the Farms, never pressured him to play the piano growing up.
“I played when I wanted to play because I loved to do it,” he said. “As you get older and you have so many responsibilities and obligations, it’s one of the hardest things to retain that childish state of mind where you do things for the love of it.”
Moshchuk said he plans to devote his performance career to classical music, and hopes to dispel the misconception that it’s an antiquated form of music.
“Unlike pop music, classical music doesn’t have a promoter, a manager or publicists – it’s just there,” he said. “It won’t give you its hand and say, hey come listen to me. People need to choose to be immersed in it.”
Tickets, which are $10, $15, or $20 based on seating, are available at or gpsouthchoir.org.