A Winning Voice from Detroit Takes Top Audience Award in Austria

Oct 14, 2013, 15:22 ET from AVL

PLYMOUTH, Mich., Oct. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Don Manvel, AVL's North American Chairman, announced today that Angela Theis of metro Detroit won the Audience Choice award at a music competition – but the genre was one not usually associated with the Motor City. Ms. Theis, an operatic soprano, captivated the audience at the prestigious American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) Meistersinger Vocal Competition in Graz, Austria with her performance of "Caro Nome" from Verdi's Rigoletto opera.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131014/DE97054 )

AIMS was created more than four decades ago to help talented American singers break into the European opera system through an intensive program of vocal coaching and audition techniques. Its "aim" is to create the next generation of American opera professionals. This year marked AIMS' 33rd annual Meistersinger Vocal Competition, which culminated in performances from eight finalists from the program's more than 100 participants. The sold-out competition took place at the renowned Helmut List Halle, where finalists were accompanied by a full symphony orchestra led by guest conductor Marius Stieghorst of the Paris Opera.

David DiChiera, founding general director of the Michigan Opera Theatre, was "very impressed by the level of the competition" and called Angela's winning performance "another important step in climbing toward full artistry."

Theis, who holds degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Notre Dame, referred to the AIMS experience as "my magical summer." It began when she became the first recipient of a scholarship named after Manvel's late wife, Shelly. It made her trip to Austria and her studies at AIMS possible. "The Shelly Manvel Pocket Angel Scholarship is living up to my vision of giving a break to Detroit-area talent who might not otherwise have an opportunity to learn from, and perform with, top European opera stars," said Manvel, "and we are thrilled with Angela's success." Added Kathryn List, president of the AVL Cultural Foundation and a well-known patron of the performing arts, "This scholarship takes the international bridge we've built with Austria and extends it from the engineering into the cultural realm."

"I am so grateful for the scholarship and to my vocal, acting and audition teachers at AIMS," said Ms. Theis. "The amount of investment that these teachers made in each of us was amazing." Theis also noted the coincidence of having the first name of Angela and having been the recipient of the Pocket Angel scholarship. "Everything about it," said Theis, "just seemed like it was meant to be."

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About AIMS
Since 1969, the American Institute of Musical Studies has been dedicated to giving gifted American singers a firsthand opportunity to learn the European opera system – including how to audition – and to be heard by artists' agents in order to gain valuable career experience. Distinguished teachers, half from Europe and half from America, with extensive teaching/performing experience, make up the AIMS Faculty. Since its founding, more than 5,000 musicians have benefitted from this premier program, which today encompasses vocal, piano and orchestra subspecialties. AIMS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization chartered in 1969. For more information, contact aimsgraz@gmail.com or to donate visit http://www.aimsgraz.com/pay-inline.html.