By GWEN SISSON
Pianist Fredrick Hodges said the biggest accomplishment of his music career is the ongoing honor of being invited to perform at all the major ragtime and early jazz festivals throughout the country.
“I love to travel, meet new people, and see new places,” Hodges said. “I am blessed that music has enabled me to accomplish so much.”
Hodges is one of the performers audiences have come to love and enjoy over the past few years of the Fifth Annual Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival.
Chip Templeton, one of the organizers of this year’s Ragtime Festival, and son of Charles Templeton Sr. whom the Festival is named, said Hodges was one of his all time favorite performers.
“His vast knowledge of the music, entertainment and movie industries of the early 20th century makes his music extremely interesting,” Templeton said. “It is high energy performance.”
Hodges first performance will be a “living room” session at 10:30 a.m. Friday in the Charles Templeton Music Museum, where he will play the piano and visit with audiences.
And this year, Hodges will have the opportunity to share a personal passion with Ragtime audiences.
Steven Cunetto, director of the Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival, said he is excited to add Hodges’ silent film classics to this year’s festival.
“This is something that he does around the country as a means of introducing people to silent films and the art of playing for the films,” Cunetto said.
On Friday at 2:30 p.m., Hodges will show “One Week” and “Sundown, Ltd.” in the Charles Templeton Ragtime Museum on the fourth floor of Mitchell Memorial Library on the Mississippi State University campus.
Hodges is expected to join Sue Keller on a number or two at Friday’s 7:30 p.m. concert.
Then the Silent Film Comedy Classics experience continues at 3 p.m. Saturday, at the Charles Templeton Music Museum.
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Hodges will join Brian Holland in a concert at Bettersworth Auditorium in Lee Hall on the MSU campus.
“It is very exciting to report that I will be accompanying silent films at the festival,” Hodges said. “In addition to performing at festivals and giving concerts, I regularly accompany silent films all over the country. I was delighted when the festival directors asked me to create a silent film program for the festival.”
Hodges said he chose films made during the ragtime era that will showcase one of the ways that ragtime music was used and heard in the first few decades of the 20th century. The films this year will feature Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Hal Roach’s Rascals, and Laurel and Hardy — the comedy giants of the ‘teens and 1920s.
Audiences can expect a few surprises from Hodges at this year’s event.
“I also have a lot of newly discovered pieces of music that I have learned especially for the festival that I am looking forward to debuting,” Hodges said.
This year marks Hodges’ third year to entertain audiences at the festival.
“I have greatly enjoyed each festival at which I performed, not only as a performer but also as an audience member,” Hodges said. “The audiences are always wonderful and enthusiastic. The audiences for the evening concerts are large, being made up of Starkville residents, university students, faculty, and a large contingent of dedicated ragtime fans who travel from all over the country to attend the festival. It is a great honor to play for such a distinguished audience.”
With a reputation as one of the best ragtime pianists in the world, Hodges is sought after by today’s foremost orchestras, festivals, conductors, and collaborative musicians. Festival organizers said Hodges’ charm, artistry, and virtuosity have brought him to the world’s most renowned stages numerous times, leaving audiences around the globe captivated.
Lyle Tate, one of the organizers for the Ragtime Festival, said Hodges’ extensive repertoire includes the great European classical masters as well as all the best ragtime, stride, and novelty piano solo pieces. Tate said Hodges’ distinguished discography, mainly on Stomp Off and Aristophone Records, includes piano works by Lucky Roberts, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Phil Ohman, Arthur Schutt, and Scott Joplin.
A native of California, Hodges began his piano studies at age eight. At 13, he began intensive classical piano study with Julliard School of Music graduates Virginia Moore and Trula Whelan. At 17, Hodges won the prestigious Music Teachers of California Young Artist Award, and, at 20, while an undergrad at the University of California-Berkeley, Hodges joined the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra as a pianist.
In 2001, Hodges earned his doctorate in history from Oxford University in England, where he lived for five years.
Hodges has participated in many renowned festivals in addition to the Templeton Festival, including the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, the West Coast Ragtime Festival, the Blind Boone Festival, and the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival.
Tickets are available for daily events, evening concerts, and for the entire Festival. For ticket information and information on other Festival artists, visit https://library.msstate.edu/ragtime/festival/tkts/index.html  or contact Festival planning committee member Lyle Tate at firstname.lastname@example.org .