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Today's Best Ragtime

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Today's Best Ragtime

Scott Kirby

Watching a Scott Kirby concert is like taking a really fun class in the classical sounds of American music. Between many of the songs there is a short narration (often with humor) about the music. Kirby will bring his interpretations of truly American music to the Panida in Sandpoint on May 4th.
    A master of Terra Verde, early jazz, Classic Ragtime, New Ragtime, and Creole compositions from South America and the Caribbean, Scott plays ragtime in the style of Scott Joplin, the great ragtime composer. Joplin saw his work as that of American Classical. The ragtime Joplin wrote was not at all rushed or uncontrolled. Scott Kirby (the Scott playing at the Panida) said,  "Joplin is not rhythmic but melodic-when played too fast you lose the syncopation."
    Many ragtime players have an almost manic style that sounds uncontrolled and muddy. Kirby’s sound has all the energy but is always very controlled, very clean. Trebor Tichenor, author of Rags and Ragtime calls Kirby “Today’s best player of Scott Joplin’s music.”
    It’s important to this Sandpoint resident that ragtime not be stereotyped as “cheesy, hokey saloon music.” He sees it as serous music that, like all music, is still intended to be fun. “My approach is to fulfill Joplin’s vision,” said Kirby.
    Kirby is one of the originators of the Terra Verde musical style, a contemporary cousin of New Ragtime with roots in a wide variety of American ethnic music, as well as strong ties to the European Romantics of the 19th century, such as Frederic Chopin and Robert Schumann.
    In an article he wrote taken from a post to the newsgroup rec.music.ragtime “The characteristics of Terra Verde are as follows: Primarily syncopated, primarily composed, contemporary works with strong ties both to folk genres of the New World and to the 19th century Romantic music of the Old World. Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Ernesto Nazareth and Scott Joplin are all true ancestors of Terra Verde, but the term is only for 'new' music (roughly 20-30 years old.)”
    As a composer Scott combines the influence of nineteenth century romanticism with these New World idioms into his own individual, syncopated language.
    A native of Ohio, Scott Kirby began his study of music at the age of six and continued formal piano instruction for 17 years. He worked under Robert Howat of Wittenberg University of Ohio, and Sylvia Zaremba at the Ohio State University. After obtaining an English degree from Ohio State University, Kirby moved to New Orleans and began his professional music career. In the following four years, he recorded the complete rags of Scott Joplin and made his debut at all of the major ragtime festivals in the United States, as well as festivals in Belgium, France, Norway and Hungary.
    He is the Music Director of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, and the Rocky Mountain Ragtime and American Music Festival in Boulder, Colorado. Scott divides his time between an extensive concert schedule and composition. He also is available for concert appearances, workshops, residencies and festivals.
    The performance in Sandpoint on Saturday the 4th is a benefit for the Rock Creek Alliance. The artist said “I don’t jump on every bandwagon all the time, but this is important. How many lakes of this size are still clean?”
    This is a rare opportunity to hear, live, American Music played with this quality, American music of the past, present and the grassroots of Terra Verde.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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