Montebello resident Shotaro Matsumoto, a senior piano performance major at Azusa Pacific University, earned top honors in two categories of the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC) state competition on Sat., Feb. 1. Matsumoto received first place in Contemporary and the Honors Audition. Matsumoto qualified for the state competition by securing first place wins in two categories in the Southern California competition last November.

“Shotaro possesses a powerful combination of talent and passion,” said Joel Clifft, DMA, director of keyboard studies at APU. “He is committed to pursuing the highest level of excellence and creating a musical experience for the listener that is akin to storytelling. His skill and unwavering determination form the foundation of his success.”

“I began piano lessons relatively late, at age 13, so I strove to reach an equal level with those who started much younger,” said Matsumoto. “This gave me the motivation to practice a lot and work hard to get to where I am today. There were many challenges along the way, but with the support of my parents and Dr. Clifft, I persevered.”

Already, Matsumoto has placed in numerous musical competitions across the United States, including securing a spot as a semi-finalist in the American Prize in Piano Performance and the Paderewski Piano International competitions. He ranked first in The American Protégé International Competition, the Southwestern Youth Music Festival Open Solo, the Yamaha Performing Artist Competition, and the Brentwood Westwood Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Matsumoto has played in numerous honor competitions at APU since 2010 and at several charity events, including concerts to raise money for the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster relief. He will graduate with a Bachelor of Music degree this May.

Annually, the California Association of Professional Music Teachers, in association with the MTNA, holds five national senior competitions and four junior competitions for elementary through college-age students, 11–26 years of age, in brass, piano, strings, voice, and woodwinds. CAPMT is the California affiliate of MTNA comprised of more than 1,000 members teaching throughout the state in independent studios, private and public schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities.