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Imagine a time and place when ragtime dominated the music scene.

On March 25-26, the 5th Annual Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival offered visitors a unique opportunity to revisit this musical past.

This signature festival featured some of the most dazzling keyboard virtuosity around in a setting that has come to be known for its warmth, hospitality and uniqueness with performances from five internationally renowned ragtime artists.

Concerts, "living room" sessions and lectures centered around the unique Charles H. Templeton Sr. Collection in the Mississippi State University Libraries, home of more than 20,000 pieces of sheet music, 200 musical instruments and extensive memorabilia from the 1880s – 1930s. All document the distinctly American approach to the "business of music."

The festival featured four returning artists and one Mississippi artist making his first Festival appearance.

Jim Hession has been one of the leading American pianists in the solo styles of early jazz, ragtime, stride, Harlem shout, boogie-woogie and swing for more than four decades. Hession and his wife, Martha, have relocated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and perform frequently in New Orleans.

Frederick Hodges is sought after by today's foremost orchestras, festival, conductors and collaborative musicians. Hodges holds a doctorate from Oxford University and his repertoire includes the great European classical masters as well as the best ragtime, stride and novelty solo piano pieces.

Brian Holland has performed ragtime, jazz and stride piano for almost 30 years and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Classically trained but with a keen ear for improvisation, Holland has a dynamic, driving style that has been described as "clear as Waterford crystal."

Sue Keller began her ragtime obsession in 1974 after graduating from DePauw University with a degree in music and theatre. Her appearances have ranged from the grand opening of Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston Harbor, the fabled Mikado nightclub in Tokyo, across Australia and even to the Great Wall of China.

David Jasen is a collector of books, recordings, piano rolls, periodicals, catalogs and sheet music that cover the gamut of American popular music. An advisor to the Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival since its inception, Jasen brings an extraordinary knowledge of ragtime and history, enriching the festival experience and providing a dimension rarely seen elsewhere.

Sue Keller returned to the Templeton Festival after performing in the inaugural event here on the MSU campus in 2007.

"I had such a wonderful experience the last time I was in Starkville," said Keller. "There was no question in my mind that I wanted to return. When asked, I said 'absolutely!'"

Stephen Cunetto, MSU Libraries' Administrator of Systems and Templeton Festival coordinator shared Keller's excitement about the Festival.

"This is our fifth year," Cunetto said, "and we're looking forward to our best Festival yet. Having such outstanding returning artists – and getting to feature Jim Hession, one of Mississippi's own – has everyone involved excited about the weekend. We welcome people each year from all across the country, and we hope this year will bring even more ragtime enthusiasts to town."

Festival participants joined a host of loyal fans in Starkville for an event that is fast becoming known as one of the best of its type. Evening concerts were held in Lee Hall's historic Bettersworth Auditorium, while the daytime living room sessions and tours of the Templeton Collection took place in Mitchell Memorial Library.

The 5th Annual Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival was sponsored by the Mississippi State University Libraries, Charles Templeton Sr. Music Museum, Starkville Area Arts Council, Rotary Club of Starkville, Greater Starkville Development Partnership, and in part by grants from the Mississippi Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, please visit the festival's website at http://library.msstate.edu/ragtime/festival.

About MSU Libraries:

Mississippi State University Libraries is a premier research library providing its communities of users an ongoing, creative, technologically advanced library program that provides new and emerging technologies; enhances and inspires teaching, research, and service of the highest caliber in an environment of free and open inquiry and with a commitment to excellence. For more information about MSU Libraries, please visit http://library.msstate.edu/ .

MSU, Mississippi's flagship research university, is online at www.msstate.edu.