Local trumpeter competes in NTC


Ben Seelig

Raising the trumpet to his lips, Mathew Harper practices his solo for the final band performance. Harper said, “I stress out when I have thoughts while playing, so I try to keep thinking to a minimum.”

With months of preparation and hours of practice, Mathew Harper, eighth grade band major, performed his trumpet piece at the Junior Solo Division of the National Trumpet Contest (NTC).

“Once I get started, my nerves calm down. Starting is the hardest part,” Harper said.

The competition took place at the University of Delaware, where a panel of three judges assessed a competitor’s solo of choice. Harper performed the piece “Schelokov Concerto No. 3.

“Matt is a great practitioner. He never makes the same mistake twice,” Jamie Groves, band director said.

Harper credited most of his success to his mentor Veselin Boshilov, also known as Vesko. He had been his private instructor since third grade, and encouraged Harper to submit. He helped him to select the perfect song to perform as well.

“Vesko prepared and encouraged him to audition  for the competition. His first entry into the NTC was in about 2020/ 2021 when all rounds were still virtual. He also qualified as a semifinalist that year,” Chanelle Harper, Mathew’s mother said.

Harper said that Boshilov warned him that when he got there, he would be intimidated. The NTC is different from competitions at home. Support from Boshilov and his family helped him carry on though.

“I was pretty calm until I was in the judges’ room. It was all happening so fast. I calmed down a little because my family was there though,” Harper said.

Harper’s family was capable of providing the necessary support since they all came from musical backgrounds.

“Matthew’s grandmother, my mother, was a concert pianist and vocalist. Matthew’s uncle plays piano, organ, and trumpet. My father also played trumpet in high school, and all of us sing,” Chenelle Harper said.

Matt received praise not only for his trumpet playing, but also for his vocal talents. He has shown improvement while at Bak, including a rise in confidence.

Groves said, “I’m going to miss Matt when he graduates. I feel grateful to have known him for three years.”