The 44th Annual World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival is set for May 23-26 at the University of Mississippi. This will be the festival’s third season in Oxford following a 41-year run in Illinois.
“It’s a four-day celebration of ragtime, jazz, blues, honky-tonk, boogie and Tin Pan Alley piano music,” said Ian Hominick, UM associate professor of music and the festival’s artistic director. “The music is outstanding; we draw extremely talented musicians and visitors from over 30 states, Mexico, Canada, Great Britain and France.”
Featured guest artists for this year include four-time champion Adam Swanson, Terry Waldo, Julie McClarey and local artist Bill Perry Jr.
Held annually to coincide with Memorial Day weekend, the festival boasts the largest, most comprehensive competitive events for pianists in the musical genres of ragtime, traditional jazz and blues. Performers compete in period costume, are interviewed before each round and show off their 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 contestants vie for trophies and larger prizes; and the Senior Division is for ages 60 and up.
Smaller contests, including the New Rag Contest and the Duet Contest, precede the main competition. Besides the competitions, the festival offers workshops by guest artists, a silent movie luncheon with live piano accompaniment, after-hours parties, an epic singalong of old classics and various catered events.
The Chancellor’s House, just off the Oxford Square, will host an opening party featuring The Tune-Ups.
All-event tickets, day passes and individual event tickets are available for purchase online from the festival website, http://oldtimepianocontest.