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Yakima Valley pianists performing and accepting honors at state conference

Janaya Kilian

Janaya Kilian (submitted photo)

A young pianist from Yakima County will perform Thursday in an honors recital at the state conference of Washington State Music Teachers Association in Tacoma.

Janaya Kilian was chosen in competition held in Yakima in February. During the Yakima-Ellensburg chapter’s Music Artistry Program, a total of 125 piano students representing 14 teachers performed to determine who would represent the Yakima-Ellensburg chapter at the state convention, which began Wednesday and continues through Friday.

Students played a piano selection judged by Dr. Colleen Hunter of Gonzaga University. Hunter chose Janaya, a freshman in the Christian Liberty Academy School System, as the chapter’s representative, according to a news release.

About 60 young performers from 30 chapters around the state will perform in five recitals during the conference, according to piano teacher Danene Knudsen. These students range in age from 8 to 18.

Janaya will perform Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Johannes Brahms. She began piano lessons at age 6 with her sister Jackie Kilian as her teacher. They are the daughters of Carl and Jeannie Kilian.

Longtime Yakima piano teacher and performer Danene Knudsen will be inducted into the Washington State Music Teachers Association Hall of Fame during the state conference in Tacoma.

Knudsen taught beginning piano at Yakima Valley College for several years, a news release noted. She has been teaching piano for 56 years, 51 of them in Yakima, and among her hundreds of past students are professional singers, music professors, school music teachers and more.

She was the pianist for the Yakima Symphony Orchestra for 25 years and accompanied the Yakima Symphony Chorus for 27 years. Knudsen performed with the Manhatten Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1993.

Knudsen still has a large piano studio and accompanies five choirs in the West Valley School District. She has been a church organist for 61 years and plays an Englewood Christian Church. She was a founding member of the Yakima chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been changed to correct the composer of Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Carl Kilian's name.

Reach Tammy Ayer at or on Facebook.

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