Arts council to sponsor piano competition

The Metro South Arts Council is tuning up plans for its seventh annual Scott Joplin Piano Competition.

Once again, the council plans to break the competition into three age groups — 7 to 10, 11 to 14 and 15 to 18.

More than two dozen competitors, some from as far away as Kansas, have ex-pressed an interest in performing at this year’s competition.

Joplin, a St. Louis native, popularized American jazz music in the early 20th century with syncopated rhythms that were an alternative to the Dixieland jazz that be-came popular on riverboats along the Mississippi River.

Joplin’s music was carried worldwide by individuals who visited the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

Modern audiences would know the music mainly as the theme to the 1973 movie “The Sting.” Though no longer a popular idiom, competitors believe Joplin’s music remains relevant.

“It’s really a unique sound,” said 15-year-old Angela Hazelwood of Crestwood, who finished second last year in the 15- to 18-year-old group. “I don’t play it for people my age, but it’s a really cool sound.”

Hazelwood has been playing the piano since she was in second grade and welcomes the chance to play for the competition judges.

The competition will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, in Room 102 of the Humanities West Building at St. Louis Community College’s Meramec campus, 11333 Big Bend Blvd., Kirkwood. The competition is open to the public at no charge.

For more information, call Frances Irwin at (314) 752-2585.