Towa Stewart poses with his teacher

Young pianist gets a boost

The scholarship, both piano and voice, is intended to encourage local talent

Towa Stewart is the winner of this year’s $2000 Virginia Graczak Music Scholarship, Piano.

Stewart is a student at Ecole Puntledge Park in Courtenay.

The Virginia Graczak Music Scholarship (VGMS), and the related Margaret Gracza Fine Art Award, were founded in 2001 by Campbell River retirees Susie and Michael Moscovich.

Both initiatives were named after cherished women in Moscovich’s life – the music scholarship in honour of her high school piano teacher, Virginia Graczak; the Fine Art Award in honour of Moscovich’s stepmother, Margaret Gracza.

North Island College’s Fine Art department administrates the latter; the former is a more personal and lavish affair, with funds raised by black tie galas held in the Moscovich’s home. Though the “black tie” bit is optional, the scrumptious dinner, cocktails, and accompanying live concert make this a night to truly remember.

For the past 10 years, the Moscoviches have hosted these galas on adjacent Friday and Saturday nights. Fifty ticketholders per night (who purchase a ticket for $75) are treated to a concert at which the winners of the piano and voice competition from the previous year perform. To top it off, a local artist is featured each year. He or she donates an original work of art – one that a lucky ticketholder wins in the Saturday night draw.

Some previous artists have included: Marilyn Timms, Lynda Jamison, Courtenay Powell, Betty Boyle, Ron Bridge, Perrin Sparks, Christina Munck, and glass artists Bob Mcleod and Shannon Proctor-McLeod.

The VGMS is open to students from school districts 71 and 72. Some previous winners include: Nicole Taylor (2003 piano), Jacqueline Block (2005 voice), Graeme Roset (2006 piano), Kevin Ngo (2008 piano), Mary Jo Wood (2008 voice), Kolya Kowalchuk (2009 piano), Carter Johnson (2010 piano), Matthew Blackburn (2011 piano), and Ryan Krell (2012 piano).

The adjudications take place in May at the Moscovich home. The applicants are vetted by the CR Friends of Music, who administer the funds.

The scholarship, both piano and voice, is intended to encourage local talent, as well as a love for, and an interest in, music.