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creative:impact - Preserving And Sharing The Legacy Of Ragtime Music

May 28, 2019

River Raisin Ragtime Revue founder/executive director William Pemberton
Credit Will Lawson

Jazz historian Dr. Karl Koenig has built one of the world's most extensive collections of jazz and ragtime music.  Recently, he selected the River Raisin Ragtime Revue, or R4, in Tecumseh to maintain and preserve his collection.  R4 founder and executive director William Pemberton joins WEMU's David Fair and Arts Alliance CEO Deb Polich to talk about this amazing undertaking in this week's "creative:impact."


Deb Polich, President and CEO of The Arts Alliance

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

About William Pemberton

William Pemberton resides in Tecumseh, MI and is founder and executive director of the River Raisin Ragtime Revue.  Mr. Pemberton is a scholar, performer and collector of ragtime music and maintains an extensive collection of vintage orchestrations, piano sheet music and original source materials.

As director of the River Raisin Ragtime Revue, he develops programming for community concert series, universities, schools, senior centers and quality arts venues.  Mr. Pemberton has partnered with Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum to recreate America’s musical history.  Presentations have included period music for The Henry Ford Museum’s Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition 100th anniversary celebration; an annual Ragtime Street Fair; and multiple programs with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the popular “Salute to America” concerts.  Mr. Pemberton is the producer of the annual Ragtime Extravaganza concerts (now in their 8th year) in Ann Arbor, which have featured national and international artists performing with the River Raisin Ragtime Revue.  Guest artists have included Grammy-winners Pat Donohue (guitar) and Ian Whitcomb (ukulele), Bolcom and Morris, Butch Thompson, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Jon-Erik Kellso, James Dapogny, Miss Miranda (London burlesque dancer); John Neville Andrews, Three Men and A Tenor, Anita Johnson (Metropolitan Opera) and many others.  Pemberton has also produced seven critically acclaimed CDs of ragtime music, which include numerous works that had never been recorded previously.

Mr. Pemberton is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and continued his tuba studies at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance.  His major teachers include Abe Torchinsky, Wes Jacobs and Robert Whaley.

Mr. Pemberton has also served as President of the Tecumseh Area Historical Society (TAHS), where he oversaw that organization’s growth in membership, endowment and community arts and humanities programming.  He was responsible for the development of numerous exhibitions and outreach programs that greatly enhanced TAHS’s visibility and reputation among the community.  In 2001, he served as project director for the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future.  Under Mr. Pemberton’s leadership, TAHS was awarded an Institutional Achievement Award from the Michigan Museums Association.

Resources:

River Raisin Ragtime Revue

River Raisin Ragtime Revue on Facebook

"River Raisin Ragtime receives historical music collection"

8th Annual Ragtime Extravaganza at the Ark

Basin Street

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu