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Three Minutes, Three Questions with Andrew Greene of Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra

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12 November, 2018 By Becca Martin-Brown
Courtesy Photo Andrew Greene

Courtesy Photo Andrew Greene

Andrew Greene was an early bloomer as a musician -- but apparently one with a very old soul. He was playing the piano when he was 4, and by the time he was 11, he was "starting to get fed up with Chopin etudes."

"As a reward for getting through yet another piece, my teacher gave me a fun 'break' -- Scott Joplin's 'Maple Leaf Rag' from 1899," he remembers. "I was immediately hooked -- the music had such a fun feeling to it, and it had an excitement I couldn't quite explain.

FAQ

Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15

WHERE — Faulkner Performing Arts Center at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville

COST — $10-$20

INFO — 575-5387

"I remember coming home from that lesson all excited, and asking my mother (who's a church musician) who this Scott Joplin person was, and if we happened to have any music by him in her own music library. Sure enough, she had a reprint of 'The Entertainer,' so I quickly learned those two pieces, then expanded into other [repertoire] by Scott Joplin, and then realized there's a lot more than Joplin in ragtime!"

Then Greene saw the Manhattan Ragtime Orchestra perform -- and "I knew then and there that I needed to do something with a ragtime orchestra, whether it be a fun hobby or a career," he says. "I was blown away -- the musicality was fantastic, it was fun, and the orchestrations breathed new life into pieces I had heard dozens of times before."

The rest is history. Greene had his own ragtime orchestra by the time he was 16, and in 2010 founded the Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra while a student at the University of Maryland. "Since then we've been growing and performing nationwide, gathering rave reviews wherever we go," he says -- and he's not yet 30.

On Nov. 15, Greene will bring the orchestra to the Faulkner Performing Arts Center at the University of Arkansas. Here's what he has to say about the visit, his music and how ragtime is finding its way to a younger audience.

Q. What will the performance in Fayetteville be like?

A. The show in Fayetteville will celebrate the 150th birthday of "The King of Ragtime" Scott Joplin. Joplin was given that title by his publisher John Stark early in his publishing career. The show will feature over 20 selections by Joplin, including his big hits "Maple Leaf," "The Entertainer," "Solace" -- the latter two featured in the 1973 Academy Award winning film "The Sting" with Robert Redford and Paul Newman -- and features a variety of his marches, waltzes, two steps and of course, his rags. All of the orchestral selections will be performed off of the original orchestrations from the era, so it'll be performed exactly as Joplin heard it back in the early 1900s.

Q. How do you convince young people this "old" music is cool?

A. It's interesting -- with the recent success of groups like Postmodern Jukebox and others, young people are seemingly embracing this older style of music. They like the rhythms, the beats, the idea of the 1910s/1920s/1930s culture. Over on the East Coast one of the biggest things that happens every year are Gatsby parties. Some audiences also enjoy it for the nostalgic idea -- a way to take a step away from today's crazy world.

Q. Talk a little bit about the crazy juxtaposition of ragtime music online and in podcasts!

A. Ragtime musicians/enthusiasts/historians are trying to essentially give ragtime a chance, and once audiences hear it they love it. Take for example my friend Ethan Uslan's "Carolina Shout Podcast." Every few weeks he puts out a new episode with a theme, researches and records well-revered and seemingly unknown pieces, adds his own comedic style to it, and voila! A highly entertaining program in 30-minute chunks, long enough to keep your interest but short enough to have you wanting more. Other programs, like Bryan Wright's "Shellac Stack" and Glenn Robison's "Rapidly Rotating Records" (all on Itunes) will play ragtime alongside the favorites of the 1920s and '30s, which helps its popularity and creates really fun programs!


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