By Edwin B. Smith
University of Mississippi
Anyone who enjoys ragtime, jazz, blues, honky-tonk, boogie or novelty songs is in for a good time as the 48th annual World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival returns Memorial Day weekend in Oxford and at the University of Mississippi.
Scheduled for May 26-28, the festival’s sixth season in Oxford follows a 41-year run in Illinois.
“This event boasts the largest, most comprehensive competitive events for pianists steeped in the musical genres of ragtime, traditional jazz and blues,” said artistic director Ian Hominick, UM associate professor of music.
“Junior, regular and senior division contestants from across the United States and beyond will vie for trophies and cash prizes. Performers compete in period costume, are interviewed before each round and show off their incredible musical skills in an attempt to advance to the finals.”
Students up to age 18 can compete for cash prizes and trophies in the junior division. The regular division is for contestants between ages 19 and 59, and the senior division is for ages 60 and up.
All contests are set for Nutt Auditorium. The New Rag Contest features premieres of new ragtime compositions, Hominick said.
Featured guest artists and judges for this year include Dean Gronemeier, associate dean at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas College of Fine Arts; Raymond Schwarzkopf, veteran singer and musician; Saundra Bishop, instructor of music theory and piano at Northwest Mississippi Community College; and Adam Swanson, renowned pianist and music historian.
Besides the competitions, the festival features workshops by guest artists, a silent movie luncheon with live piano accompaniment, after-hours parties at the Old Armory Pavilion and an epic sing-along of old classics.
“The Red, White & Blue Party on May 29 celebrates our veterans, and all veterans are admitted free of charge,” Hominick said. “There is something for everyone during this family-friendly weekend.”
For the complete schedule and to purchase tickets, visit https://oldtimepianocontest.com/. For more information, contact Hominick at 662-801-2251.