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Bach, Joplin share keyboard in pianist's show

(ran PW, PS editions of Pasco Times)

Classical pianist Masanobu Ikemiya will bring his Classic Ragtime Connection to Hernando County on Saturday.

Though Ikemiya has performed locally with his Ragtime Orchestra in the past, this concert will mark his first solo appearance in Hernando.

"I'm just me this time," Ikemiya said from his home in New York. "I'm the one-man show."

Part of the Community Performing Arts Guild's concert series at Mariner United Methodist Church, the program's first half will feature classical pieces by the likes of Bach and Chopin. The second half will include music by ragtime greats from the turn of the century, such as Scott Joplin.

"Ragtime was the first uniquely American form of music," Ikemiya said. "It's a fascinating period."

Trained as a classical pianist, Ikemiya says ragtime music started as a guilty pleasure for him. Though he was born in Kyoto, Japan, the bandleader says he has developed a love affair with American ragtime music.

"Here I was a straight classical musician," he said with a laugh. "I didn't want to let anyone know I was playing this type of music."

But when he added Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag as an encore for a recital, Ikemiya said, he was convinced that people would accept both forms of music in one concert.

"This show is all the best of piano music," he said. "Some people get so intimidated by classical music. Ragtime helps make it more accessible."

Ikemiya will dedicate the concert to the memory of Lee Hogberg, the woman he credits with bringing him to Hernando County. Hogberg served nearly a decade as president of Mariner United Methodist's Performing Arts Guild. She died in October.

"She was really an amazing person," he said. "She was dedicated to bringing good music to her community."

The guild's mission is to bring affordable musical entertainment to Hernando County by hosting concerts at Mariner United Methodist Church.