He’s grand on the piano

Jason Ferguson

Some day, Elijas Clark of Custer would like to travel the world playing in an orchestra.
If his run in the South Dakota Music Teachers Association competitions over the past four years is any indication, he’s on the right track.
Clark became a back-to-back champion in his age group at the most recent competition Nov. 4, when he placed first in the advanced category in the senior age division (ages 17-18) at the competition, making it two consecutive years he has placed first in his group. He was second in consecutive years before breaking through with a win a year ago.
“I was pretty happy and overjoyed to keep that title (of champion),” Clark said, adding he only had to wait 10 to 15 minutes after performing to find out he had won.
Clark, 17, attended the competition in Brookings, where he played four pieces, with a grand total of 12 minutes to perform. There was one judge listening to his performance.
“I thought I didn’t do the greatest,” Clark said. “I could have been better. But I got a lot of applause from the professors who were there, which was really surprising to me.”
Clark, who is a homeschool graduate as of June, has been playing the piano since he was 5. It was at that age his mother, Petra, put him in piano lessons. He quickly fell in love with the instrument.
“That’s where I started on my piano journey,” he said. “She just wanted me to experience what music would be like. At the time we didn’t know it, but I had a gifting in that.”
Clark is currently taking a year off before enrolling in college this fall, working with his father, Timothy, at his foundation and concrete repair business. The Clarks moved to Custer three years ago from Hawaii.
Right now piano is mostly a hobby for Clark, as he is not in a band, although he does give lessons. He said he practices the piano 10 to 12 hours a week. He has also entertained people who have come to the Clark home to visit.
Clark said his favorite composer is Frédéric Chopin, a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic period, who wrote primarily for solo piano.
“I love the Romantic area of music,” Clark said. “His music is fun to play, and it’s gorgeous. That’s why I love him so much.”
Clark hasn’t chosen a college yet, but wherever he goes he will have his eye on his future career, which will be set about by a major in musical performance that will allow him to live out his dream.
“That would be really great to do,” he said.

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