Ragtime Concert Picnic, a Family Affair
“It’s amazing how many people don’t know what ragtime music is,” says Gwen Gould, Founder and Conductor of the Columbia Festival Orchestra. “It’s full of energy. It’s delightful,” says Ragtime expert Dan Paget. “It’s syncopated sound,” says Webster’s Dictionary, the music considered modern when the 19th century was winding down and the 20th beginning.
The 12-piece Columbia Festival Ragtime Band, an offshoot of the Columbia Festival Orchestra, will be giving an open air, mostly ragtime performance at the Chatham Fairgrounds this Saturday. Both the Festival Orchestra and the Ragtime Band are comprised of professional musicians—most New York City-based—who like to get together in their off-season to play at venues more relaxed than, say, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra, or the Mostly Mozart Festival.
Saturday’s program includes A Treemonisha Sampler (excerpts from Scott Joplin’s opera arranged especially for this performance by ragtime composer Dan Paget); Charleston Rag, an Eubie Black original ragtime piece that is described as “on the boundary between ragtime and jazz”; and Skedaddle, a piece by George Rosey written around 1900 and originally recorded by piccolo and piano. Paget, who consulted on this program and arranged several of the pieces, has also included two of his own original compositions.
Conductor Gwen Gould will be waving her baton for more than just ragtime tempos. Also included will be some patriotic pieces—fitting for the July 4th holiday—and several marches. Small children will be invited to parade when the band strikes up The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
Youngsters who play instruments are being featured, too. Select students in CFO’s mentoring program, “Take a Seat in the Orchestra,” will be joining the band for part of the evening. And those who aspire to wield the baton will want to participate in the raffle. First prize: an opportunity to guest conduct (under Gould’s quickie tutelage) a rousing rendition of The Liberty Bell. White tie and tails not required.
This is the first year for this great-lawn event. The audience may either bring food or purchase on site, but all beverages must be purchased on the grounds.
Columbia Festival Ragtime Band
Columbia County Fairgrounds
Saturday, July 2
Grounds open at 5:30 p.m.; concert, 7:30 p.m.
Admission/$20.00 (includes parking); under 12/free