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Old-Time Piano Event Names Winners From Weekend Competition

William McNally performs Earl Wild’s arrangement of “Embraceable You” by George Gershwin.
Ted Lemen, founder of the Old-Time Piano Player Contest and Festival, brought ragtime, jazz and blues back to Oxford this weekend. The Ole Miss Music Department sponsored the event, which was originally founded as a fundraiser for the Monticello Railroad Museum in Illinois.

“By the third year 600 people showed up with their lawn chairs to watch [the competition] outdoors and the trains ran in the background,” Lemen said. “That was our reason for bringing people to the museum so they would buy a train ticket.”

After a 41-year stretch, the competition decided to call it quits. That was until Dr. Ian Hominick of Ole Miss’ music department contacted Lemen in regards to bringing the competition to Ole Miss. Hominick, who judged the competition numerous times, absorbed the competition into the university’s music department.

The competition has four different divisions: regular, junior, senior and a duet contest. Jean Baptiste Franc of France claimed this year’s first place award in the regular division, followed by second place winner William McNally of Pittsburg.

Each contestant competed by playing six pre-1940 musical selections. Two of the arrangements had to be ballads or standard popular songs and not considered ragtime.

For more information on the Old-Time Piano Contest, visit https://oldtimepianocontest.com/.

By Talbert Toole, associate editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at talbert.toole@hottytoddy.com.

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