Anne & Jeff Barnhart
David Thomas Roberts (Composer in Residence)
The Mont Alto Ragtime & Tango Orchestra
Frank French (teacher in residence)
Sarah Roth Vanegas
David Thomas Roberts
Jim X. Borzym (Dancing Master)
The Mont Alto Ragtime & Tango Orchestra
A pianist, musicologist, arranger and conductor, Joshua Rifkin was instrumental in reviving interest in the important composer of ragtime music, Scott Joplin. During the 60s, Rifkin studied at the Juilliard School of Music, New York University, Gottingen University and Princeton; and worked on composition with Karl-Heinz Stockhausen in Darmstadt. At the same time, he played ragtime and piano jazz, and recorded for Elektra Records as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band. Also for Elektra, he conducted The Baroque Beatles, classical-style versions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney songs. He also arranged and conducted Wildflowers, and other recordings for Judy Collins. In 1970 he was appointed Professor of Music at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and musical director of the Elektra ancillary, Nonesuch Records. The following year, the Lincoln Centre produced the highly successful An Evening With Scott Joplin, at which Rifkin was a featured artist. From 1970-74, he released a series of three Piano Rags By Scott Joplin, which won Stereo Review and Billboard Awards as records of the year, and coincided with the release of the movie The Sting (1973), whose soundtrack featured "The Entertainer" and several other Joplin tunes, arranged by another Juilliard "old boy", Marvin Hamlisch. The movie won seven Academy Awards, and, together with Rifkin's albums and the work of Gunther Schuller's New England Conservatory Jazz Repertory Orchestra And Ragtime Ensemble, sparked off a nationwide revival of Joplin's works. Subsequently, Rifkin worked a good deal in the classical field, conducting concerts and releasing several albums. He was also at the forefront of the move to revitalize vintage recordings of ragtime music by the digital process.
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As a duo, Anne and Jeff Barnhart bring much variety to their performances, due in large part to their rapport and their diverse backgrounds. Each holds a master’s in music, but Jeff has concentrated on the American forms of music such as ragtime, jazz and Tin Pan Alley, while Anne’s expertise lies in classical flute literature. While they will be concentrating on ragtime, jazz and Broadway this time around, a typical concert with Anne and Jeff consists of everything from baroque masters Bach and Loillet, to ragtime and jazz pioneers Scott Joplin, Zez Confrey, Willie “the Lion” Smith and Bill Evans. Add to this eclectic mix a smattering of 20th century classical composers such as John Rutter and Joachim Andersen, contemporary ragtime composers including William Bolcom and Hal Isbitz, and famous Broadway composers past and present, and audiences experience a sonic treat as flute and piano weave seamlessly through the ages, trading melodic and accompaniment ideas in a unique combination. Jeff Barnhart began his professional career at age 14 playing four nights a week in a sing-along restaurant, where he began to learn the classic swing, jazz and ragtime repertoire of the early 20th century. Jeff put himself through college playing throughout New England. In the 1990’s he toured the US and Canada, playing most of the major festivals on the circuit with either the Hot Cat Jazz band or the Draga-Vax Connection. The 21st century has seen Jeff in demand as a soloist and band pianist at parties, festivals, clubs and cruises in all corners of the globe. He currently manages the Titan Hot 7, one of the most acclaimed bands in the country. In addition, he leads two bands in the UK: the Fryer-Barnhart International Jazz Band, which concentrates on hot music of the 1920’s, and Jeff Barnhart’s British Band, which performs small group swing of the 30’s. Jeff enjoys playing dual piano and has done so with such jazz luminaries as Ralph Sutton, Neville Dickie, Louis Mazetier and John Sheridan. He also performs ragtime with Mimi Blais and Brian Holland. In addition to his own label, Jazz Alive Records, Jeff’s plays piano and sings on the international labels GHB, Summit-World Jazz Records, Music Minus One, and the two largest jazz labels in the UK, Lake Records and P.E.K. Sound. He has been featured as both pianist and vocalist on over 30 recordings. Flutist Anne M. Barnhart is a magna cum laude graduate of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and holds both bachelor and masters degrees in music. As a result of extensive master-class experience performing for such world famous artists as Jeffrey Khaner and Goran Marcusson, Anne was invited to participate in the Acadmie International dete de Nice held in Nice, France. Anne is a member of the International Who’s Who in Music and Musicians in the Classical and Light-Classical Fields. Anne’s teachers include Vanita Hall-Jones, John Wion and Ransom Wilson. Anne’s musical experiences have taken her throughout the United States and Europe. Anne is on the faculty of the Thames Valley School of Music at Connecticut College and also teaches at the private music studio she shares with her husband, Jeffrey. With an extensive student base upon which to draw, Anne founded and directs Musica del Oro, a performing flute choir. Jeff and Anne are currently enjoying a busy performing schedule in concert halls and festivals, ceremonies and private engagements. Most recently, they have played to standing ovations in such diverse places as Sun Valley, Idaho, Mammoth Lakes, CA, Evergreen, CO, Sedalia, MO, Denver, CO and Clearwater, FL and Victoria, BC. They also perform each year at the prestigious Keswick and Bude Jazz Weeks in England. Anne and Jeff are featured artists with Jazzdagen Tours, Studio City, CA. In connection with Jazzdagen, Anne and Jeff have been featured performers on the American Queen Mississippi Riverbat, Peter Dalhman Cruises (down the Rhone River in France) and on a transatlantic cruise with the prestigious Crystal Cruise Line. Their premier CD is a collection of early and contemporary rags done in a classical setting fittingly called "Ivory and Gold". Anne and Jeff have followed that with a recent compilation of Broadway hits, entitled My Funny Valentine. Anne and Jeff make their home in Mystic, CT, where they own and operate the Mystic Music Studio and Agency. Anne and Jeff have new ragtime CD entitled "Romances in Ragtime" which features quieter, more serious ragtime, from both the classic and contemporary repertoires.
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blending the elements of such great jazz piano traditions as the Harlem Stride
of James. P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Dick Wellstood, and Ralph Sutton, the ragtime
of Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake, and the New Orleans styles of Jelly Roll
Morton, into his own two-handed creation and adding a unique and highly
recognizeable vocal style, Paul Asaro has
performed across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Graduating from Columbia College
in Chicago with post-graduate work in music at Roosevelt University, he has
performed extensively as a soloist in Jazz and Ragtime festivals, clubs, and
theaters in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Toronto and Montreal, Canada,
Milwaukee, Superior and La Cross, Wisconsin, Los Angeles, San Diego and
Sacramento, California, and Branson, Missouri as well as Switzerland and
Also well known to bandleaders as a strong and experienced ensemble pianist and accompanist, he has played with Jim Beebe’s Chicago Jazz, Connie Jones' Classic Jazz All-Stars, drum great Barrett Deems' Big Band, Bill Russo’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and Doug Finke's Independence Hall Jazz Band.
Asaro has performed with such jazz legends as Marian McPartland, Steve Allen, Leon Redbone, and Jim Galloway, as well as playing and recording with such emerging stars and "young lions" like Jon-Erik Kellso, Duke Heitger, Brian Ogilvie, and Orange Kellin. He has played the part of "The Professor" along side Vernel Bagneris in the New York Off Broadway production and national tour of Jelly Roll! The Music and the Man. Starting in 1995, Asaro became house pianist aboard the legendary steamboat Mississippi Delta Queen, based in New Orleans. In 1998, he started a long run playing solo piano at "Julia's in Wallingford" in Seattle, WA. During 2000 and 2001 he toured with his own trio throughout the country, receiving rave reviews and producing two live CD's. Currently Paul is based in the Chicago area and is touring regularly with Leon Redbone and as a much in demand soloist.
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David Thomas Roberts —composer-pianist, writer, and visual artist — has been hailed by many as New Ragtime’s leading figure.Born in Moss Point, Mississippi, in 1955, he was composing, painting, and writing stories by age eight. He wrote his first rag in 1971, at which time he was especially interested in the music of Erik Satie, Scott Joplin, Charles Ives, and Alexander Scriabin, whose work he encountered and studied independently of any teacher. Since then he has composed over 85 ragtime-related piano pieces while continuing to work in a variety of other musical languages. In his early twenties, David wrote some of the piano pieces for which he is best-known. His poetry was first published at that time. His first recording, Music For a Pretty Baby, appeared in 1978. By 1984, two albums devoted entirely to his own compositions were internationally available. Pieces such as The Early Life of Larry Hoffer, Roberto Clemente, Pinelands Memoir, Through the Bottomlands, and the eclectic suite, New Orleans Streets, led many writers to hail Roberts as the leading contemporary ragtimebased composer. The New Orleans historian Al Rose called him “the most important composer of this half of the century in America.” David is the author of entries in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music and is listed in The International Who’s Who in Music. He founded and edited The Streetfighting Aesthete, a journal of surrealist expression and experimental writing. His poetry appears in many U.S. small press periodicals, and his paintings were recently featured in the British magazine of visionary art, Raw Vision, while his music has been played on National Public Radio. He currently divides his time between California and Missouri. David has performed at every Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival since its beginning in 1992.
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Brian Keenan is a major Minnesota composer and performer of ragtime and related music of the past and present. Born in St. Paul, he began taking piano lessons at age ten and started playing and composing classic ragtime shortly thereafter. Brian was introduced to the world of New Ragtime when he met Frank French, David Thomas Roberts, and Jack Rummel in 1991. In 1994, he graduated with honors from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he studied composition, piano,and harpsichord and was a member of the school’s Early Music and Electronic Music ensembles. Brian has been a featured performer at the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri; the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival in Boulder, Colorado; the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, California; the Classic Ragtime Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana; and the Lake Superior Ragtime Festival in Superior, Wisconsin. Brian has also performed for several community theatre productions in the Twin Cities and composed the title song for Woodbury Community Theater’s “The Magic of Christmas” in 2002. In 2000, Brian presented his compositions on the program “The Wave Project” on KFAI-FM in Minneapolis. Brian’s recording of Trebor Tichenor’s “Deep in the Ozarks” was used by Garrison Keillor on a Mark Twain audiobook in 2001. Another career highlight was a 2004 appearance on Backstage Pass, a weekly arts magazine on Twin Cities public radio. Brian’s CD releases – comprising Folk Ragtime, New Ragtime, and Terra Verde – include Solo Piano (1996, Solo Art), Hidden Falls (1998, Viridiana), River Bluffs (2000, Viridiana), and Traditions (2001). In addition, his compositions have been recorded by David Thomas Roberts on SoloArt and Viridiana releases. This is Brian Keenan’s ninth appearance at the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival.
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Pianist/composer Scott Kirby, Festival musical director, specializes in distinctly American musical styles which include Classic Ragtime, New Ragtime, Creole Music, and Terra Verde. As a performer, he is also an educator, providing historical context and musical insight into the program as it unfolds. Whether on the concert stage or in the classroom, Kirby offers a musical experience which is both informative and intimate, educational yet highly personal. Each presentation is unique and may include examples from North America, South America, and the Caribbean, illuminating how a rich musical heritage evolved from a melange of ethnic music and “art music,” from the aural and the composed traditions. Such composers include Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Scott Joplin, Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth, jazz pioneer Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton, and Ernesto Lecuona of Cuba. Concerts may also contain short pieces from Latin America and the French Caribbean such as the Haitian merengue, the biguine from Martinique,the Puerto Rican danza, the cumbia, or the Cuban habanera. In addition, Kirby champions writers of New Ragtime and Terra Verde, contemporary counterparts to the more traditional styles. As a composer, Kirby 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 seventeen years. He worked under Robert Howat of Wittenburg University of Ohio and Sylvia Zaremba at 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. Kirby now divides his time between performance and composition and is available for concert appearances, workshops, residencies, and festivals. He has served as musical director of the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri. Scott Kirby helped found the Ragtime Institute and has performed at every Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival since its inception in 1992.
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French-Canadian Sophie Rivard, will display her prowess on the violin. Sophie Rivard is a graduate Cum Laude in Performance from McGill University. She is principal second violinist with l’Orchestre Metropolitan de Montreal and Concertmaster of the Montreal and the Monteregie Chamber Orchestras. She is also a soloist and guest speaker at concerts and conferences specializing in baroque music. She has recorded and often performs with Mimi Blais. This is Sophie's third appearance at the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival.
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The Mont Alto Orchestra is a five to seven piece chamber ensemble that recreates the small local orchestras that were popular in America from 1890 through 1930. These orchestras provided music for dancing, for listening, and for accompanying movies in the days before talkies. Mont Alto revives this tradition in recordings and live performances. As the five-piece "Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra" we play for silent films, and as the "Mont Alto Ragtime and Tango Orchestra," adding drums and singer, we play for ragtime and tango tea dances and balls in Colorado.
Mont Alto was formed in Colorado in 1989, and has toured around Colorado as well as to Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, and California to perform music at venues ranging from elementary schools to Grauman's Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
The orchestra was formed as "The Mont Alto Ragtime and Tango Orchestra" in 1989 to play dance and salon music of the teens. The Motion Picture Orchestra, a subset of the larger group, started scoring silent films in 1994, after discovering the music collection of Al Layton, a theater music director in Colorado in the 1920s. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra accompanies silent films in authentic period style, using original photoplay music. Tight ensemble playing and appropriate music selection bring the films to life.
The large sound of Mont Alto belies its small, portable size. The Motion Picture Orchestra is a quintet of piano, violin, cello, clarinet, and cornet. The Ragtime and Tango Orchestra adds vocalist Susan Rogers and drummer Chris Kermiet.
Mont Alto's repertoire includes several thousand orchestrations photocopied from the surviving collections of four silent film theater music directors.
Mont Alto records scores for VHS and DVD releases of silent films in collaboration with David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates and Dennis Doros of Milestone Video. These have been very well received, and are considered some of the finest modern recorded silent film scores.
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Frank French is widely recognized as one of the foremost proponents of New World Piano music today. As a composer and performer he is bringing this musical tradition to audiences everywhere with renditions of the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Enersto Nazareth and today's masters of New World piano styling. His commentaries shed light on the Western Hemisphere's musical evolution from folk music to art music. Although trained in the classics his musical interest extend from classical to popular music. He grew up in San Francisco and studies piano and theory at the Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University. As a student, he undertook the rigorous study of "serious" music, mastering the 48 preludes and Fugues of J.S. Back and recording them in their entirety. He was also involved in the performance U.S. and Latin American vernacular music early in life, which influenced his approach to composition. He has performed extensively in the United States, Canada, Mexica, Europe and Australia.
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Adam Yarian is an 18 year college freshman at USC. At USC he is majoring in piano performance and studying both classical and jazz piano with Dr. Stewart Gordon and Dr. Dennis Thurmond respectively. He has been playing classical piano for 9 years, and ragtime for almost as long. Adam has been lucky enough to study under two remarkable classical teachers -- Dr. Gary Dinn of Fort Washington, Maryland and Professor Reynaldo Reyes at Towson University -- who have both always encouraged and aided Adam in his ragtime studies. Adam has competed in and won numerous classical and ragtime competitions, including the 1998 Maryland State Solo Competition, the 1999 Maryland State Concerto Competition, and the 1998-2000 Junior World Championship Old Time Piano Playing Competition in Decatur, Illinois. Since 2001, Adam has competed in the senior division in the Old Time Piano Playing Competition four times and this year won the coveted title “World Champion Old Time Piano Player”. Additionally, Adam has been a member of the internationally recognized Federal Focus Traditional Jazz Band since 1999, and traveled with them to New Orleans, England, and this summer, The Hague.
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Originally from Roseburg, Oregon, Sarah Roth Vanegas began playing piano at an early age. She has performed in numerous concerts and festivals across the country, including Sacramento and Fresno, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Sedalia, Missouri. She studies with Rebecca Jeffers at Oregon State University . Influenced by numerous trips to South and Central America and her recent marriage to a native of Colombia, Vanegas focuses on the music of Latin America. Her works feature the syncopated rhythms and colorful melodies of music from Brazil, Cuba and other countries, by composers such as Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Ernesto Nazareth and Ernesto Lecuona. Sarah has performed as a student performer at previous Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festivals and has attended the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Institute.
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has taught dance for fifteen years, including the past four summers at the Vintage Dance Week in Cincinnati. He organizes the annual Columbine Ball and Tango Trot, as well as monthly tea dances, in the Denver area where he makes his home. His teaching style emphasizes sociable forms of dance with comfortable leading and following and improvisation rather than specific choreographs.
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Edward A. Berlin is a leading specialist on ragtime, having written three books on the subject, more than a hundred articles, and having given more than fifty lectures at music festivals and conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. His book King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era (Oxford University Press, 1994) is the most thoroughly documented study of the composer's life and career and is considered the standard biography of the composer. His Reflections and Research on Ragtime (Institute for Studies in American Music, Brooklyn College,1987) won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music. His Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History (University of California Press, 1980; translated as El Ragtime, Ediciones Tres Tiempos, Buenos Aires, 1985) is the major text on the history and development of the style. More information is available on his website, www.edwardaberlin.com.
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Hal Isbitz was born in 1931. He grew up in Los Angeles and is a resident of Santa Barbara, California. Hal is a retired computer programmer and classically trained musician. He started writing ragtime in the mid-70s, being mainly influenced by the ragtime compositions of Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb, American popular music, and the works of the Romantics, such as Chopin and Rachmaninov. Inspired by such pieces and Joplin's "Solace" and Artie Matthews' "Pastime Rag No. 5," he began writing Latin American pieces in the early 1980s. In 1987, he became acquainted with the Brazilian tangos of Ernesto Nazareth, whose works exerted a strong influence in the creation of works employing the idioms of Latin America. To date he has written some 65 pieces. Hal was awarded second prize for his rag "Lazy Susan" in the 1997 Scott Joplin Foundation Ragtime Composition Contest.
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