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Coming February 4, 2018
Bill Edwards, Alex Hassan, Dan Mouyard, Martin Spitznagel, and Bryan Wright in a Memorial Concert for Warren Trachtman
About the Artists
Bill Edwards discovered Ragtime when he was 6 years old and hasn’t been able to leave it alone since. Learning initially from records by Paul Lingle, Frankie Carle and Lou Busch, he later discovered it was available in print form and started accumulating ragtime scores in his teens. Bill started his professional career in California in the late 1970s. In the 1980s he resided part time in Durango, CO and played in the Diamond Belle Saloon at the Strater Hotel. Bill has lived in Virginia since 1986 and for many years was a featured entertainer at the Fish Market in Alexandria. Bill has many CDs and has performed with many prestigious traditional jazz bands, and worked with and opened for a variety of well-known artists, including Dave Brubeck, Al Hirt, Mel Tillis and Jo Ann Castle. Bill is an active researcher of selected composers and ragtime music.
Alex Hassan is a Northern Virginia-based pianist thoroughly immersed in the musical styles and arrangements of the 1920s and 1930s. Among the highlights of his musical career, he counts performances at the Aldeburgh Festival in the UK; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History; Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri; Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival in Boulder, Colorado; Stanford University; Pizza-on-the-Park in London; Player’s Club in New York City; Toronto’s McMichael Art Gallery; the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater and Millennium Stage; the El Segundo Ragfest in California; Manhattan nightclubs, and the Piano Rarities Festival of Husum, Germany. ‘ Alex has frequently performed for the 37-year-old Northern Virginia Ragtime Society, of which he is president.
Dan Mouyard taught himself to play the Maple Leaf Rag at age 14 and immediately got hooked on ragtime. After taking a few years of piano lessons in high school, he later graduated from Dickinson College with degrees in Physics and Music Composition. In 1996, Dan won the Junior Division of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. He won the new rag contest in 2000 and went on to win the Regular Division title in 2001 & 2003, becoming the youngest Regular Division Champion until then and the first to win all three divisions. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Dan now lives in Bethesda, MD with his wife and kids.
Whether performing the masterworks of Scott Joplin or the score to Star Wars, Martin Spitznagel is truly at home on the piano bench. A sought-after performer and decorated composer, he found success early, winning a Yamaha Disklavier at the age of 14 in Calliope Media’s nationwide Crazy for Ragtime competition. His entry, chosen from the hundreds of submissions by a panel of judges that included world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, coincided with the centennial of the birth of ragtime music in 1897. Despite this early success, Martin was largely self-guided until 1998, when he met Eastman School of Music pianist and pedagogue Dr. Tony Caramia, who challenged him to “find the surprise” in every performance. In 2011, Martin was selected as the Scott Joplin Foundation’s Artist in Residence, and in May he claimed the title “World Champion of Old-Time Piano Playing” at the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. In addition to his musical pursuits, Martin holds a B.A. in Creative Writing, a Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and an A.S. in Filmmaking. This diverse skill set has enabled him to work on everything from a documentary film about polio with “St. Elmo’s Fire” screenwriter Carl Kurlander to directing his own epic Star Wars fan film, Star Wars: Hunt for the Holocron.
Bryan Wright, Ph.D., of Pittsburgh, PA, is a pianist and musicologist based at the University of Pittsburgh where he teaches courses in music history. Classically trained as a pianist from age 5, Bryan enjoys playing a variety of syncopated piano music, from classic and modern rags to piano novelties, tangos, and early jazz. With his wife, Yuko, he has performed across the United States and abroad. He is founder and executive producer of Rivermont Records, a Grammy-nominated label devoted to ragtime, dance bands, and early jazz. Bryan also avidly collects 78 rpm records and hosts a podcast, The Shellac Stack, featuring period recordings of ragtime and early jazz bands. Bryan has released two solo piano albums, Syncopated Musings and Breakin’ Notes, and recently collaborated with Brian Holland and Danny Coots for the CD and DVD Live from Buenos Aires.