The Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival will run this year June 4-7 with the new addition of a mini-museum, a special 40th year celebration and a increase of a younger set of performers ranging in age from 13 to 25.
The festival will kick off Wednesday, June 4 with 2 p.m and 8 p.m. concerts at State Fair Community College. Festivities will begin in the downtown area from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with free venues at the John Stark Pavilion, Maple Leaf Club Site, Cakewalk Hall, and at Gazebo Park. On Friday, June 6 the Stark Pavilion will stay open until 7 p.m. this year versus 5 p.m. in past years.
The Katy Depot will also be hosting free venues.
“The Katy Depot will once again be having an open piano Thursday through Saturday,” said Kyle Siegel, director of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Foundation. “They are very good to us, they allowed us to have our Donor Party out there on Thursday. They also have their year-around exhibits up too, so it’s a good chance to go out there and and listen to some music, Scott Joplin related, and then also gives a chance to see what all the Katy Depot has to offer.”
Ragtime symposiums running from 9 a.m. to noon will be hosted Thursday and Friday at First United Methodist Church at Fourth Street and Osage Avenue, Siegel added. The cost is $5.
Many popular performers such as Jeff Barnhardt, Brian Holland, Scott Kirby and Stephanie Trick will be back playing this year along with 13-year-old Daniel Souvigny, a Ragtime prodigy.
New this year is the Scott Joplin mini-museum at the Liberty Center Association for the Arts, 111 W. Fifth St.
“I felt like I wanted to include the Liberty Center again in the festival this year,” Siegel said. “So I talked with Terri (Ballard) over there and set up some ideas that we could do and the best idea we came up with is a little mini-museum. It will be celebrating Scott Joplin and Ragtime music and have some pictures and some items in there of some historical significance. And it will be free and open to the public and also we’ll have an open piano in there.”
Something to make note of this year is a special 40 year celebration of the first Scott Joplin Festival to be hosted at 11 a.m. Friday at Liberty Park.
“Also bringing something back from a long time ago … at Liberty Park Lagoon Island we will bring an anniversary concert,” Siegel said. “That’s the 40th anniversary of the very first festival, but it’s not the 40th festival. It’s the 34th festival, there were six festivals that I believe were in the mid-70s and early ’80s were weren’t held. It’s a free concert, open to the public We’d like to have everybody come out. We’ve got a performer that performed in the first one, David Reffkin, he’s actually come back to play again. And Dr. Dave Majchrzak, he’s also our artist director. David Reffkin is a violinist and so Dr. Majchrzak playing accompaniment for him … and then Jeff Barnhardt, who’s a sizable man in the Ragtime community. I think it will be a good show as long as the weather holds off.”
New performers this year will include a younger generation of Ragtimers.
“A younger gentleman by the name of Eric Shore will be playing with us,” Siegel said. “We have a young guy out of California his name is Kylan deGhataldi and we’re going to have Barron Ryan this year. He is the son of Donald Ryan, who’s a prominent piano player.”
Both Barron and Donald Ryan will be playing this year. Siegel said Barron was unable to play last year due to an injury.
“A lot of the performers they tend to rotate,” he added. “We have some younger kids that have come up and started … they are in their early 20s. Performers like Adam Swanson, Max Keenlyside and Daniel Souvigny, I believe he’s 13 now. He is a prodigy as far as playing at such an early age. He started playing several years ago and now he gets standing ovations and ahhs and oohs from the other performers, so they’ve got to watch out for him in the future.”
Although Souvigny has played at past festivals it’s been as a non-contracted performer; this year will be his first as a contract performer. Also playing this year will be John Reed-Torres, a college student out of Los Angeles, as well as Frank LiVolsi.
“A lot of these younger performers are a close-knit group,” Siegel said. “Because they travel around playing at some of the same festivals, because they are all similar in age. It’s exciting to have this many younger (performers).”
The Scott Joplin Foundation presents an artist in residence program to area schools in February each year and Siegel would like to see area children and parents attend this year’s festival to see the younger performers as well as the other entertainers.
“…I’d like to invite them out to check out some music,” he added. “It gives the kids a little bit different perspective. A lot of the performers also talk and give information beforehand so it would be a good history lesson of Sedalia-centered items.”
Those attending will also see a slight increase in food vendors this year.
“We have quite a variety,” Siegel said. “This year we’ll have wood-fired pizza, and then you have your staples for festivals and fairs, corn dogs and kettle corn. And maybe a couple new vendors in town that will have a wide variety of menu items, hamburgers and gyros and sides. We don’t want to overload, but we’ve got a good mix this year.”
Three vendors will be at the John Stark Pavilion tent at Fifth Street and Ohio Avenue, a new one will be at Second Street and Ohio Avenue and another one on Main Street and Ohio Avenue at the Maple Leaf Park location.
“That way each venue has something,” Siegel added.
The box office at the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival Store will be open Tuesday, June 5. Tickets for ticketed venues can be purchased by calling 826-2271. For more information visit the Scott Joplin website at scottjoplin.org.