The 15th annual Charles H. Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival premiered virtually this year on March 26 and 27 to showcase early American and jazz music produced by a variety of performers.
The festival was recreated to fit COVID-19 standards and used two nights to showcase past and present performances. Although the event already occurred, the festival is now available to watch on Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube.
Stephen Cunetto, Mississippi State University Libraries' associate dean, explained how the festival was still able to occur despite the pandemic and social distancing standards.
“This year, we had to really make big changes to the format of the show, so we decided that Friday would be retrospective of the last ten years,” Cunetto said.
Cunetto continued, describing how the festival tied in past and present performances.
“We are taking videos from the last 10 years of shows, from the best of the best and putting those together as well as receiving an update from those performers," Cunetto said. "They recorded an update on how and what they were doing and how COVID has impacted them.”
Cunetto described the format of this year’s festival and said each day of the show previews different performances from different years.
“The second night, which is Saturday night, is a two-part show. The first part will be a look at last year’s best of the best, so we have highlights from the 2020 festival. After that, we will have the performers that we originally slated to participate in the 2021 festival. We decided to ask them to do some selections and pre-record those and send them to us. We put those together into the second half of Saturday night’s show,” Cunetto said.
Cunetto said the festival’s committee invited the performers scheduled for this year to perform live next year. She said this year’s unusual show is a preview for 2022, when the festival will hopefully be in person.
Jeff Barnhart, artistic director of the Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival, explained the benefits of changing the show. He said the festival could broadcast performances from the last decade for the first time since the original show.
“The content of this festival, which we would never be able to do, precedented some kind of change, and we are adapting to not being there in person,” Barnhart said. “We typically have a growing number of MSU student attendees, and we are missing that this year, but we thought we should do a retrospective of what the festival had been in the past from years 2010 to 2019 on Friday night.”
Chip Templeton, director of MSU’s Small Business Development Center, introduced the Keyone Docher Student Achievement Award and presented it to this year’s winner, junior music education major Eli Denson, who performed after being honored.
Templeton said the Keyone Docher Student Achievement Award is given to an exceptional person at the music department each year. Keyone Docher, the namesake of the award, was the first student who performed at the Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival. Templeton said Docher was an excellent musician, and the department gives the award each year in remembrance of him.
“He had a certain charisma about him, not just his music. As a coincidence, just a few weeks later, Keyone passed away. We remember not only his music but the passion he has for his music,” Templeton said.