The Hutchinson boys are at it again.
John Patrick and Alex Hutchinson are returning with hardware after placing first and third, respectively, in the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest which was held this past weekend at Nutt Arena on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi.
From the www.oldtimepianocontest.com website: “Every year over Memorial Day weekend in Oxford, Mississippi, the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest is held to provide an opportunity for pianists to compete and learn in a stimulating atmosphere, and to educate people about old-time piano music written prior to 1940…(participants) compete in three divisions — Regular, Junior & Senior—as they vie for over $6,000 plus trophies — as well as the New Rag Contest, where aspiring composers present their original tunes.”
John Patrick Hutchinson played “Swipesy Cakewalk” by Scott Joplin and Arthur Marshal (1900) and one of Joplin’s earliest pieces which tells the story of stealing cookies and fighting over said cookies. He then played “Cole Smoak” by Clarence H. St. John (1906) and won the first-place trophy and a cash prize.
Alex Hutchinson played “Coquette” by Irving Berlin (1928) and “Cloud Kisser” by Charles L. Johnson (1991) and finished third overall.
Alex Hutchinson chose two songs that dealt with local history. His first piece referred to the shooting and subsequent murder of William B. “Bill” Cole which was the subject of the Broadway play and subsequent motion picture “Coquette” starring Mary Pickford. His second piece loosely referenced Cole’s brother, Albert Bledsoe “Bled” Cole, who moved to St. Louis to unsuccessfully manufacture cars and airplanes.
This was both Hutchinsons’ second trip to Oxford for the festival.
John Patrick Hutchinson’s love of ragtime came from Main Street Disney.
“In 2011, during a family vacation to Disney World, John Patrick heard ragtime for the first time and has been hooked ever since,” said father John Hutchinson, mayor of Rockingham and a local historian.
John Patrick Hutchinson said that he felt fortunate to be able to play in the same competition (albeit in a different division) with a former Disney pianist.
“It was so exciting to share the spotlight with the Disney pianist (Paul Orsi) who won the regular division,” said John Patrick Hutchinson.
John Patrick Hutchinson said that it’s a long process for deciding what pieces to play at the competition.
“I’ve been picking out pieces since January 2023,” said John Patrick Hutchinson. “When picking out pieces, I learn a bunch for fun then I pick two I can play solidly. I finally settled on “Cole Smoak” early March.”
John Patrick Hutchinson said he is very proud of his first-place trophy.
“I really like and I’m excited to have the trophy. There were long days of working on the pieces. It is very satisfying to see hard work pay off.”
Alex Hutchinson says he works hard on his pieces, but he doesn’t see himself following the same path as his brother.
“I see myself as either a businessman or an engineer,” said Alex Hutchinson.
Although, Alex Hutchinson does love the competition between him and his brother.
“I want to finish either first or second … and I know he wants to finish first … so he does influence me to do my best,” said Alex Hutchinson.
In late April, at the North Carolina Music Teacher’s Association competition, both Hutchinsons received “Highest Honors” designations in both regional and state contests. Alex Hutchinson’s designation came in the “Senior A” level (second highest) and John Patrick Hutchinson’s designation came in the “Senior B” level (highest).
Both artists would like to thank their piano teachers for their help and guidance in reaching their successful goals.
Alex Hutchinson’s teacher is Charlotte Cox and John Patrick Hutchinson’s teacher is Dr. Annie Jeng.
John Patrick Hutchinson will be attending Julliard Piano Camp in Orlando, Florida, on June 25 thru July 8 and Interlochen Center for the Arts piano camp in Interlochen, Michigan, from July 16 thru Aug. 8.
Like his brother, Alexander Hutchinson will be attending the Palmetto International Camp at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, and also the UNC-Greensboro Music Festival on the campus of UNCG.
Both brothers agree, playing ragtime gives them both joy.
“Once you play it is really fun to play,” said John Patrick Hutchinson.
“It’s exciting music, happy music,” said Alex Hutchinson.