2022 World Championship Old Time Piano Playing Contest Winners

Memorial Day weekend this year was once again the occasion for live performances at the World Championship Old Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival in Oxford, Mississippi. After resorting to virtual programs in 2020 and 2021 the stage at the Nutt Auditorium on the campus of Ole Miss was live again for the 46th annual gathering.

After 41 years at Illinois sites the event moved to Oxford five years ago and it has expanded into a festival featuring the music of ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, and the old standards. Ted Lemen, founder and Adam Swanson, former four-time winner, emceed the 2022 event. Brian Holland, Bill Perry, Jr., and Carl Sonny Leyland judged the performance competitions. The 2022 winners were:

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JUNIOR DIVISION

1st Place: John Beggs, Madison FL

2nd Place: Richie Bliesener, Burlington IA

3rd Place: Landan Pierce, Okawville, IL

Listen to Angela Verbrugge: Love for Connoisseurs

SENIOR DIVISION

1st Place: Bobby van Deusen, Pensacola FL

2nd Place: Monty Suffern, Waco TX

3rd Place: Larry Wade, Decatur IL

REGULAR DIVISION

1st Place: Eve Elliot, Los Angeles CA

2nd Place: Paul Orsi, Mission Viejo, CA

3rd Place: Warren Ertle, Tuscaloosa AL

4th Place: Bill Edwards, Ashburn VA

5th Place: Paul Stewart, Greensboro NC

Bill McNally coordinated the Piano Composition Contest. Sam Post was a co-winner with his “Angel’s Watch Rag.” Warren Ertle was the other co-winner with his “Yellow Hammer Rag”; Sam won last year as well with his “Lighthouse Rag.”

Other activities during the event included Adam Swanson’s program accompanying two silent films, an old-time singalong, a double-decker bus tour of Oxford, workshops, outdoor pavilion performances, and after-hours events.

This year’s festival was well attended, and some performances will be posted on the Internet. Sadly, the event’s website posted a notice after the festival that two participants had contracted COVID-19 and those who attended were advised to watch for symptoms.

Larry Melton was a founder of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in 1974 and the Sedalia Ragtime Archive in 1976. He was a Sedalia Chamber of Commerce manager before moving on to Union, Missouri where he is currently helping to conserve the Ragtime collection of the Sedalia Heritage Foundation. Write him at [email protected]

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