World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest to be held Memorial weekend

Published 1:12 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

Since its inception as a fundraiser for the Monticello Railway Museum in 1975, the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest has hosted more than 1,200 piano contestants from across the U. S. and abroad.

Held annually to coincide with Memorial Day weekend, this event boasts the largest, most comprehensive competitive events for pianists steeped in the musical genres of ragtime, traditional jazz and blues.

In Oxford, the event will be held May 23-26.

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Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2024, contestants ages 11 to 83 will be converging on Oxford from all across the United States, as well as Great Britain, France and Japan, to vie for trophies and cash prizes totaling a record $10,000 at the University of Mississippi, the Contest’s home since 2016.

The event will be emceed by founder Ted Lemen.

There are four primary contests: A New Rag Contest for aspiring composers premiering new

ragtime compositions; the Junior Division featuring pianists ages 18 and under; the Regular Division for seasoned performers; and the Senior Division for those pianists over 60 years of age.

Special guests this year include jazz icon Judy Carmichael, host of NPR’s Jazz Inspired, along with guitarist Larry Koonse; award-winning entertainer Todd Robbins, Investigation Discovery Channel host and magician; pianist Bill Perry Jr. and the only four-time champion, Adam Swanson, who has performed at music festivals worldwide and serves as co-emcee for the event.

In addition to the contests, there are workshops, and various catered events with live music including a Silent Movie Luncheon and after-hours events each evening featuring lots of pianists as well as big band music.

The exclusive off-campus venue this year is indoors at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center located on the corner of University Avenue and S. 14th Street.

For a fun-filled four days of fabulous music, visit to purchase tickets for this year’s World Championship.

All-event tickets, day passes and individual event tickets are available for purchase on line from the event website and at the door, as space permits.

Questions can be directed to the artistic director Ian Hominick at 662-801-2251 or


SCHEDULE – May 23-26, 2024


The Oxford Powerhouse is an in-door venue and all after-hours events conclude at 11:00 pm. Alcoholic beverages available on site.


THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2024

7:30 p.m. Judy Carmichael & Larry Koonse in Concert – Nutt Auditorium


FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2024

9 a.m. Judy Carmichael Presentation (with Larry Koonse, guitar)

10:30 a.m. Guided Trolley Tour of Historic Oxford

12 p.m. Mexican Luncheon at the Powerhouse with 2023 Champion Paul Orsi

2 p.m. Todd Robbins: So the Story Goes: The Surprising Tales Behind American Popular Music

3 p.m. Ian Hominick: Wild About Jazz: Earl Wild’s Excursion on the ‘Dark Side’

6 p.m. New Rag Contest



8 p.m. Tune-Ups Party until 11 pm


SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2024

8 a.m. Contestants Draw for Playing Order

9 a.m. Preliminary Round for Junior, Regular & Senior Divisions

11:45 a.m. Silent Movie Box Lunch with Adam Swanson – UM Band Hall

1 p.m. Regular & Senior Division Preliminary Round continues …



6 p.m. Southern Catfish Dinner – live music by 3-time Senior Champion Bobby van Deusen

7:30 p.m. An Hour with Ted Lemen (Before It’s Too Late)

8:30 p.m. Old-Time Sing-along with Jamie Shannon

9 p.m. Dr. Warren Ertle and the Corpse Revivers (big band)

9:45 p.m. Pianists scheduled until 11 pm


SUNDAY, MAY 26, 2024

9 a.m. Junior Division Master Class with Bill McNally

10:55 a.m. Gospel Rag Service with Bobby van Deusen – OU United Methodist Church

1 p.m. Semi-finals, Seniors Final & Finals – Nutt Auditorium



7 p.m. Red, White & Blue Finale