Piano competition amazes listeners

The 3rd Harris Piano Contest was held last Saturday, and, once again, I was amazed at the confidence and ability of the 26 competitors.

The judges had fantastic things to say about all the contestants, and they were very complimentary about the contest in general.

MarySue Hormel Harris could not attend this year, but sent her encouragement to those participating.  In a note she said “This competition is a golden opportunity for you to do your very best and illustrate your progress musically on the piano.  I applaud you for your participation in the Harris Music Contest.  You must know that I will be thinking of you and wishing you well as you perform.  Enjoy!”

Thanks goes to six area piano teachers who encouraged their students to practice hard and enter the competition: Lynee Larson, Holly Dalager, Sonia Larson, Joyce Edland, Emily Blain and Susan Hayes. Austin is very fortunate to have these, and many other, fine music teachers in town.

13 young people were awarded medals, trophies, and cash prizes during the final competition held at the Historic Paramount Theatre.  Many pianists of this age do not have an opportunity to perform in such a grand theater so this is a great experience for them. Valuable feedback was given to all the contestants by our panel of non-partial judges making the contest beneficial for everyone.

Following the contest local percussionist and MacPhail Center for Music representative, Cheryl Collins, performed two pieces on the marimba.  She then spoke about the community partnership that is being developed with the MacPhail Center for Music.  Austin’s already strong music tradition is being strengthened with the presence of MacPhail.

 2015 Winning Contestants


Olivia Augustine, Champion

Ema Kazokaitis, Runner-Up

Gabby Wang, Honorable Mention


Rachel Engelstad, Champion

Katie Shin, Runner-Up, and Division 1 Overall Champion

Blake Zimmerli, Honorable Mention

Rachel Danielson, Honorable Mention


Isaac Kubas, Champion and Division 2 Overall Champion

Sarah Bachmeier, Runner-Up

Aaron Knoll, Honorable Mention

Ashley Conradt, Honorable Mention


Anna Bachmeier, Champion

Sydney Bendtsen, Runner-Up

Music was important to the Hormel family and it is still important to the Hormel Historic Home today.  It is part of our mission to offer opportunities that encourage people of all ages to enjoy, learn about, or participate in music activities. A new benefit we are offering is for area music teachers to utilize the historic HHH living room for recitals or performances.

With space for about 40 people we have a lovely and elegant setting for your student recitals.  The Hormel Historic Home will continue the musical legacy of the Hormel family and will carry out the wishes of MarySue in any way we can.

 History Happy Hour

5:30 p.m. social, 6 p.m. presentation, Monday, May 11

The History of the Austin Medical Center and the Integration of Mayo Clinic presented by Chuck Keller and Steve Waldhoff. Free to members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society, and the Friends of the Library. $5 for non-members. The 3rd Harris Piano Contest was held last Saturday, and, once again, I was amazed at the confidence and ability of the 26 competitors. The judges had fantastic things to say about all the contestants, and they were very complimentary about the contest in general.

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