Contest weekend starts with a buffet and rehearsal dinner on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at Peoria’s Sky Harbor Steakhouse. Anyone can attend this buffet whether they play piano or not, and instrumentalists this year will prepare for an appearance of the Old-Time Orchestry on the Saturday Night Sing-along under the direction of Ian Whitcomb, Grammy-winning performer, musician and composer. Visit Sky Harbor to get your reservation for this all-you-can-eat buffet (chicken, award-winning ribs and more) served 5:00-8:00pm. We’ll hang out and play the old upright piano until interest wanes and everyone is worn out.
On Friday, May 25, everyone piles aboard the Spirit of Peoria riverboat at 11:00am for a two-hour luncheon cruise on the Illinois River. The boat has pianos on two decks and a calliope on the open top deck, and more than a dozen pianos players and other musicians will play throughout the entire trip. The tickets for this event have Sold Out!
Friday afternoon at 5:30pm ragtime legend Johnny Maddox and three-time champion Adam Swanson host a workshop with Adam as moderator, asking questions Johnny will answer verbally or at the keyboard.
Friday evening, the New Rag Contest for composers takes place at 7:00pm, followed by a preview screening of The Entertainers, a documentary about the contest filmed over the past three years. Several of the players featured in the 90-minute film will be there—along with producer Michael Zimmerman, who will lead a question and answer session. After the New Rag Contest, two party rooms open for the rest of the evening.
Saturday, May 26, we start the competitions at 9:00am following a drawing for order of play. Junior and Regular Division players compete all day and the Junior champion is usually crowned by 5:00pm.
The next event is Dinner with the Champion on Saturday evening at 6:00pm. 2011 champion Martin Spitznagel of Alexandria, Virginia, plays while diners enjoy a delicious meal enhanced by more than an hour of piano music.
The Saturday Night Sing-Along features entertainment by Ian Whitcomb and his wife Regina, Johnny Maddox and Adam Swanson. We hand out song books so everyone will have the words to favorite standards from the Gay 90s, Roaring Twenties and Tin Pan Alley, and everybody sings.
After the Saturday Night Sing-Along, the two musical party rooms open again for many more hours of impromptu piano performance—one with two pianos and second one with a single piano so other instrumentalists can play along.
Sunday afternoon, May 27, the “Top Ten” players from the Regular Division square off and play down to the “Final Five,” all competing for cash prizes, medallions, and the contest’s traveling trophy. Then, the party rooms open again for an evening of unrestrained music after the contest is over, subject to piano players being available.
Monday morning, the Red, White, and Blue Brunch takes place with Sue Keller at the keyboard as we fill you up with coffee and put you back on the road.