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MSU hosts annual Ragtime music event

March 29, 2012


Mississippi State University welcomes back the sixth annual Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival today. The event runs through tomorrow and features evening concerts at Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium as well as daytime tours and sessions at Mitchell Memorial Library’s Templeton Music Museum. Performers this year include Jeff Barnhart, Brian Holland, David Jasen, Carl Sonny Leyland and Martin Spitznagel.

“This signature festival features some of the most talented pianists around in a setting that has come to be known for its warmth, hospitality and uniqueness,” festival coordinator Stephen Cunetto said.

Planning committee member Lyle Tate said having both Barnhart and Holland at the same festival is exciting.

“They both travel and play so often that having them in one place together is difficult,” Tate said. “Their chemistry and dynamic on stage is amazing, and we’ll get to experience that Saturday night.”

Tate said ragtime is the true root of American music, and so much of today’s styles — even hip-hop and rap — can be traced back to ragtime.

“Keeping this music alive and learning each year about how ragtime has shaped different genres throughout the years is exciting and important,” Tate said.

As in previous years, Tate said, organizers hope people will find an open, fun and relaxed festival atmosphere.

“They can visit with other music enthusiasts and with our visiting artists,” Tate said. “The festival is a unique time for people to experience some extraordinarily talented performers and to get to visit and talk with them between sessions. Also, festival-goers can play alongside the artists during the after-hours events after each evening’s concert.”

Tate said public support is huge in making the festival possible.

“If the Starkville community members and a handful of ragtime enthusiasts from around the country didn’t come to the festival, our artists would be playing for empty rooms,” Tate said. “The Starkville community continues to be wonderful cheerleaders for the festival by attending the events, by volunteering in different aspects throughout the weekend and by spreading the word about just how great this music and the festival really is.”

Tate said he is personally excited to meet Spitznagel and to hear him play.

“This is his first visit to the Templeton Festival, and from watching his YouTube videos, he’s going to be an exciting, dynamic addition,” Tate said.

In addition to the MSU Libraries and Templeton Music Museum, the festival is sponsored by the Starkville Area Arts Council, Rotary Club of Starkville and Greater Starkville Development Partnership. In part, additional sponsorships also are provided by the Mississippi Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts.

To view the performance schedule and purchase tickets for the individual programs — or for the entire festival — visit For additional ticket or schedule information, contact Tate at 662-325-2559 or

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