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Striking a Chord: Young musicians attend Parnassus Auditions
Auditions hosted by Central KS Piano Teachers League
Piano student Kaylea McMullen performs in the elementary piano division at the Central Kansas Piano Teachers League’s Parnassus Auditions, Saturday in the Dorothy Moses Morrison Chapel at Barton Community College. - photo by Susan Thacker

Young pianists had an opportunity to perform on Barton Community College’s Steinway grand piano Saturday when Central Kansas Piano Teachers League hosted the annual Parnassus Auditions. Vocal students also joined the auditions, performing in front of adjudicator Tiffiney Harms in Barton’s Dorothy Moses Morrison Chapel.

More than two dozen grade school and high school students performed memorized musical solos for the adjudicator, who then wrote an evaluation of each student’s performance. This year’s adjudicator, Harms, is head of the music department at Sterling College. She is a former student of Great Bend piano teacher Glenna Gaunt.

As students entered the chapel for their piano solos,  Harms invited each to “warm up” at the grand piano. 

Elementary Division students only performed for a written critique. Junior Division students received performance ratings with their written critiques. High School students in the Senior Division competed for ratings, critiques and awards for first place, second place, third place and honorable mentions.

Fourteen-year-old Reagan Huslig received a I rating after playing “Chanson” from Nancy Faber’s Piano Adventures lesson book level 4. After her Junior Division performance, Huslig talked about what she likes best about playing the piano, or any musical instrument. She’s been taking piano lessons since second grade with instructor Lorrie Stickney.

“It expresses someone’s true colors,” she said. “Your mood is expressed in the way you play.”

Piano instructor Karole Erikson said the Central Kansas Piano Teachers League sponsors the auditions every year.

“The contest goes back many years,” she said. “I competed in the piano division when I was in high school from 1973-1976. Lorrie Stickney, another piano teacher, competed when she was in high school.”

Grand piano

“The Dorothy Moses Morrison Chapel is the perfect venue for this contest,” Erikson said. “The renovated Steinway is a wonderful instrument for the piano students.”

The college’s Steinway grand piano returned to its home at Barton last December after spending almost a year in New York City being totally refurbished at the Steinway Company. That project was made possible by a grant from the Dorothy Morrison Foundation. The Barton Community College Foundation and Music Department also purchased nine other pianos for performances in the Fine Arts Auditorium and Shafer Art Gallery, and for classroom use.

All of the students whose performances were rated Saturday earned I’s, piano teacher Becky Dudrey said. “We had a bunch of good players today.”

“The high school piano students have just finished KSHSAA (Kansas High School Activities Association) regional piano and state piano, so they are in their best performance mode of the entire year,” Erikson said. “However, the singers compete in March and April for regional and state KSHSAA, so this is a perfect way for them to get ready for the upcoming competitions, testing their performance skills.”

The winners were:

Senior voice:  Andrew Maier, first place, performing “Amor Preparami” and “Jolly Roger”; Audrey Muth, second place, “To lo sai” and “Tally-Ho”;  Caden Rowan, third place, “Loch Lomond” and “Fire Down Below”; Hayden Honomichl, honorable mention, “No Lo Dira Col Labbro” and “I Attempt From Love’s Sickness to Fly.”

Senior piano: Luke Maneth, first place, performing “Wedding Day at Troldhaugen”; Allen To, second place, “Ballade in g minor, Op. 110, No. 3” by Brahms; Elizabeth Linenberger, third place, “Cantico Iberia”; and McKenna Cape, honorable mention, “L’Orange, Op 109, No. 13” by Burgmuller.

More to come

On Tuesday, the Central Prairie League Music Festival will take place throughout the day at Barton’s Fine Arts Building. Hundreds of music students from area cities will present solos and small and large ensembles for ratings.