Ragtime returns

March 13, 2010 11:33:00 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


What may have emerged in the 1800s as dance music with a "ragged" rhythm in cities like New Orleans and St. Louis still lives, breathes and draws fans from around the world. Ragtime, that syncopated good-time music often associated with Scott Joplin or the movie, "The Sting," will be celebrated March 26-27 in Starkville at the fourth annual Charles H. Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival. 


The high-energy weekend also featuring jazz, boogie woogie, blues, movie tunes and more is presented by the Mississippi State University Libraries and the Charles H. Templeton Sr. Music Museum housed in Mitchell Memorial Library on the MSU campus. 


Well-known ragtime and boogie woogie musicians will perform during the two days of concerts, seminars, piano talks, silent movies and tours.  


"We like to add different elements each year," said Stephen Cunetto, a co-organizer of the festival, along with Charles "Chip" Templeton Jr., Frances Coleman and Maridith Geuder. "One of the things we''re doing this year is that Frederick Hodges, who performs at silent film festivals around the world, will accompany a selection of comedy classics starring Laurel and Hardy and other silent screen legends both days after the break for lunch." 




The piano men 


Carl Sonny Leyland returns for his second Templeton Festival. The British-born musician is regarded as one of today''s great boogie-woogie pianists. He''ll be featured March 26 in a "Talk at the Piano" at 11 a.m. in Mitchell Memorial Library, and March 27 in concert with Hodges in Lee Hall at 7:30 p.m.  


Terry Waldo, known for his virtuoso ragtime and stride piano playing, charming vocals and wit, will be in concert March 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Hall with Adam Swanson, and conduct a "Talk at the Piano" March 27 at 11 a.m.  


The 18-year-old Swanson is ranked among the world''s foremost performers of American ragtime music. In 2008, the Iowa resident became the youngest pianist to win the World Championship Old-time Piano Playing contest. His "Talk at the Piano" appearance will be March 27 at 3 p.m. 


Museum tours conducted by noted collector and historian David Jasen are offered both days at 9:30 a.m. The collection amassed by the late Templeton contains about 22,000 pieces of sheet music, 15,000 playable musical items and almost 200 musical instruments ranging from the 1880s to the 1930s. 




Going digital 


Cunetto, administrator of systems for Mitchell Memorial Library, has been involved in the festival since its inception. 


"We have people from all over the world contact us trying to access different pieces of music," he said, adding that the museum is in the process of making the sheet music free to pianists worldwide by digitizing the collection. 


Janice Childers, coordinator of digital projects for the MSU Libraries, will address that topic March 26 at 3:45 p.m. at Mitchell, with "Ragtime in the Digital Age." 






Registration for all events is $50. Or register for Friday or Saturday only for $30. Evening concerts at Lee Hall are $10 each. Admission for MSU students is free with I.D. Seniors 55 and up and retired MSU faculty and staff receive a 20 percent discount. 


Access the complete festival schedule and register online, or download a registration form to mail in, at http://library.msstate.edu/ragtime/festival/. For additional information, contact Cunetto at 662-325-2559. 


The festival is supported, in part, by grants from the Starkville Area Arts Council, Starkville Rotary and Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.