As the date for the 46th Annual edition of the World Championship Old-time Piano Playing Contest and Festival draws nigh, I’m happy to report that 14 slots are already filled in our Regular, Junior, Senior and New Rag Contest venues.
Six Regular Division entries have entered, five from the United States and a sixth from Switzerland. Included in the US bunch is a former World Champion, Russell Wilson, piano player for the United States Marine Corp. band at the White House. Russell won the contest in 2013, then took time off to get a family started, finally returning to compete again this year.
The next biggest contest so far is the New Rag Contest, with five its ten slots filled. Two Juniors have entered that division and Bobby van Deusen, will defend the Senior Division title won last year.
Please consult the 2020 contestant list for all divisions on this site to see who enters next.
Many previous contestants have yet to enter with the May deadline still some time off. This early interest from players is likely the best ever for the contest at this point, and with four months+ to go, there may be some divisions that fill up completely. In that event, spots from unfilled venues will be opened up on the contest deadline date to accommodate additional contestants for full venues.
One contestant this year has entered both the Regular Division fray and the New Rag Contest.
With players from Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland Michigan, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, plus Switzerland and the United Kingdom, the 2020 World Championship Old-time Piano Playing Contest and Festival is truly an international event again this year.
But, exciting competitions are just part of the fun. The annual Tune-Ups take place Thursday evening, May 21, so everyone already in town has a place to go for live music and a chance to play too.
Friday, May 22 features a double-decker bus tour, then a luncheon with 2019 Champ Paul Orsi, and workshops with contest judges Sue Keller and Tom McDermott later in the afternoon. The New Rag Contest starts at 6 pm followed by Pianopalooza at our downtown venue, the Chancellor’s House at 8 pm, a piano party where everyone who wants to play gets a chance.
On Saturday, May 23, competitions run from 9 am to 5 pm for all three divisions, with a lunch break at 11:45 am so that four-time World Champion Adam Swanson can accompany some classic silent pictures at our Silent Movie Luncheon, complete with a box lunch.
At the close of the competitions on Saturday, it’s off to the Chancellor’s House for dinner with our three judges, Sue Keller, Tom McDermott and Terry Parrish, all obligated to show off their own musical chops. After dinner, it’s time for the old-time Sing-along, with all the words you’ll need and yours truly at the piano.
Things on Sunday, May 24, start with a worship service at the Oxford Methodist church, where Sue Keller Adam Swanson and Perfessor Bill Edwards will provide old-time music.
Competitions resume Sunday afternoon at 1 pm and usually wrap up about 5:30 pm or so. Afterward, the Red White & Blue Farewell party at the Chancellor’s House completes activities for the 2020 contest.
You can get tickets on-line starting with the All-event ticket, or shop for specific events you want to attend.
Ted Lemen, Contest Founder & Emcee