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Pianists Compete in Late Teacher’s Memory

Dr. Andy Powell presents Chris Staknys with top honors at the Hanna Powell Memorial Piano Competition. Also pictured are Alan Chiang, Sarah Byrne, Logan Peters, and Michael Bostock.

Dr. Andy Powell presents Chris Staknys with top honors at the Hanna Powell Memorial Piano Competition. Also pictured are Alan Chiang, Sarah Byrne, Logan Peters, and Michael Bostock.

Credit: Sanford Performing Arts Center

Press Release

Without sheet music and just the notes in their minds, five pianists keyed off in “competition,” Sunday at the Hanna Powell Memorial Piano Competition, with Chris Staknys from Falmouth winning the judges’ nod.

“I want to thank the Powell family for trusting us with this wonderful legacy project,” said Sanford Performing Arts Center Director Brett Williams, who coordinated the festival with local piano legend Dr. Morton Gold. “In three years, it has grown into something amazing, and I think it’s the most wonderful way to honor Hanna’s memory.”

Melodic fingers were flying across the Steinway Model D piano as the top five musicians competed in the third annual festival at Sanford Performing Arts Center, in loving memory of a talented pianist and music educator, Hanna Powell. The five finalists performed a brief concert, each featuring at least two works in contrasting styles from the standard repertoire. They were awarded the following honors:

First Place ($2,000) – Chris Staknys from Falmouth.

Second Place ($1,500) – Sarah Byrne from South Berwick

Third Place ($1,000) – Alan Chiang from Vermont

High School Honors Award ($1,000) – Michael Bostock from Portland

Honorable Mention ($500) – Logan Peters of Falmouth

Staknys graduated from Juilliard with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and worked there for several years before returning to Maine. He currently serves as music director at the First Parish UU Church in Kennebunk and teaches private lessons in Yarmouth.

As the judges deliberated, Hanna’s 15-year-old nephew, Väinö Viljanen from Finland, a very accomplished pianist himself, entertained the crowd of about 200 in attendance.

Hanna Powell died in 2017 after a long battle with breast cancer. A talented pianist, organist, and music teacher, Hanna taught at St. Thomas School in Sanford as a part-time music teacher from 2012-2016. She was qualified to teach at the college level but chose to teach children.

The five competitors were invited to the live finale after an initial video audition, judged by Dr. Morton Gold. A panel of three independent judges at Sunday’s competition included Mathilde Handelsman, Justin McCarthy, and Andrius Žlabys.

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