Perry-area pianists shine at Iowa State Fair’s Bill Riley Talent Search

Perry-area pianists Elizabeth Weyers, left, and Lilian Dong, right, were joined by Bill Riley Jr. at the Carroll County Fair, where the young performers won honors.

While many students spent their summer break at baseball fields, softball fields, swimming pools and city parks, two local students spent much of their time tinkling the ivories . . . all the way to the Iowa State Fair.

The Bill Riley Talent Search was started in 1959 and now boasts nearly 100 local qualifying shows held across the state. Once contestants qualify at the local level, they compete in the preliminary competition followed by the semi-finals and championship. The preliminary, semi-finals and championship contests all take place during the fair.

In order to qualify at the local level, contestants must earn a first place spot at one of the designated local competitions. Their pieces cannot exceed three minutes in length and must be memorized. Competition is divided into two categories: Little Sprouts (ages 2 thru 12) and Seniors (ages 13 to 21).

Two Perry-area pianists competed and qualified to perform at this year Bill Riley Talent Search. Both are students of Jeanne Hill, piano instructor in Perry.

Competing as a Little Sprout was Lillian Dong, daughter of Michael and Gracie Dong of Perry. Dong is 8 years old and is in her second year of piano study. She is a third grade student at Perry Elementary School.

This summer Dong focused her piano repertoire on performing, which earned her a First Place rating at the Carroll County Fair July 7 in Coon Rapids. Her winning selections were “Sonatina in C, Third Movement,” by Muzio Clementi and “Magnificent Monarch” by Melody Bober.

Dong competed at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 11 in the preliminary competition with her Bober pieces, “Shimmering Prelude” and “Magnificent Monarch.” She also earned a Third Place at the Panora Days competition Aug. 5.

The second local pianist to compete at this year’s Iowa State Fair was Elizabeth Weyers, 18, daughter of Brett and Linda Weyers of Bouton. Weyers is entering her senior year at Woodward-Granger High School and is her 10th year of piano study.

Weyers performed her piece, “Theme from Concerto in A Minor” by Edvard Grieg July 28 at the Sac County Fair in Sac City. Her performance earned her a qualifying spot to perform at the Iowa State FairĀ in the Seniors category.

Weyers played in the preliminary competition Aug. 16. This was her second trip to the Iowa State Fair as a contestant in the talent show. In 2014 she competed with her piano solo combination of “Swan Lake” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and “The Tempest” by Nancy Faber.


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