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South Charleston pianist heads to Penn State for major competition

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Nov. 16, 2013, Jacob Bumgarner, a South Charleston High School junior, was named the West Virginia Division Finalist in the Senior High Piano Competition held by the Music Teachers National Association. This month, he will travel to Penn State University in University Park, Pa., where he will compete in the Senior High Piano MTNA Eastern Conference Competition.

Bumgarner, the son of Jayme and Michael Bumgarner, has been playing piano for eight-and-a-half years. He started his studies with instructor Olive Meyer and now plays for Vicki Cavendish.

"I became interested in piano at a young age when hearing a girl in my class play, but I didn't begin lessons until the third grade," he said.

The competition will start Friday and last through Jan. 12. Bumgarner said he has been practicing since about June 2013 for this competition.

"I am looking forward to the experience I will gain from competing against other talented pianists that are my age. I'm very excited to get to go because I've never had this kind of experience before!"

Currently, the West Virginia Division MTNA Competition is the biggest competition Bumgarner has played in. He recalled what it was like winning that competition.

"It is very exciting for me that I was able to win!" he said. "Honestly, when I heard the news that I had won, I was filled with complete joy. It was and still is such a great feeling to know that I was selected to be the winner."

In the Eastern Conference Competition, Bumgarner will be playing Johannes Brahms' "Rhapsody in G minor, Op. 79, No. 2," Johann Sebastian Bach's "Prelude and Fugue in D Minor, WTC II, BWV 875," Samuel Barber's "Excursions, Op. 20: I. Un Poco Allegro" and Claude Debussy's "Prelude V: Les Collines d'Anacapri."

He stays positive when talking about the competition, though he admits it will be challenging.

"I am not positive of what it will be like, but I am sure that it will be a tough competition filled with very bright and talented opponents," he said.

If he wins this competition, Bumgarner will move on to the MTNA Competition National Finals, March 9 at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. That's not the only piano playing he sees in his future.

"I plan to major in piano performance in college, and I would like to travel and perform after I graduate," he said. "However, my ideal goal after I perform as much as I can is to become a professor of music at a university."

He has already started to teach piano some and has two students.

"It is a wonderful experience [to teach] because it helps me to look at music from a different view than I would normally," he said. In addition to his other accomplishments, in December, Bumgarner was also named one of the West Virginia Symphony's Student Symphonic Fellows, part of the Amy and Andrew Vaughn Fellowship Program. He and Pete Nichols and Jonathan Shin, both of Capital High School, were named fellows, while George Washington junior Donald Foreman and Capital sophomore Haleigh Frail were named interns.


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