The Allegheny City Ragtime Orchestra is a nine to eleven piece professional ensemble, founded in 2013 by Tom Roberts.
It draws its members from The Pittsburgh Symphony, The Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, The Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra, as well as several other professional orchestras.
The orchestra was created to restore the lost music of Pittsburgh composers from the ragtime era, roughly 1897–1917.
In addition to the composers of Pittsburgh, the repertoire is drawn from a vast collection of stock orchestrations comprising music from not only classic ragtime, but marches, waltzes, tangos and silent movie music.
Amongst the composers within our repertoire are:
Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, James Scott, Eubie Blake, Tom Turpin, Mel Kaufman, Clarence Williams, William Tyers, Ernesto Nazareth, and many, many others.
The ACRO has performed at the sixth annual “The Americas in Concert” at Shadyside Academy’s Hillman Auditorium, The Allegheny Riverstone Center for The Arts, The Allegheny City Society Summer Concert series, The Allegheny City Central Society Summer Concert Series as well as accompanying the Films of Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont.
What is "ragtime" anyway?
Ragtime is a musical genre that enjoyed its peak of popularity between 1897 and 1918. Its main characteristic is its syncopated or ragged rhythm. It began as dance music in the red-light districts of African American communities throughout the mid and southwest. It is a modification of the march made popular by John Philip Sousa, with additional polyrhythms from Africa.
Ragtime fell out of favor as jazz claimed the public’s attention after 1917, but there have been numerous revivals since the music has been re-discovered.
In the 1940s, many jazz bands began to include ragtime as part of their repertoire. In the ‘50s a wider variety of ragtime styles became available through the LP.
In 1971, Joshua Rifkin brought out a compilation of Scott Joplin’s work which was nominated for a Grammy Award.
In 1973 The New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble recorded “The Red Back Book” a compilation of period orchestration edited by conservatory president Gunther Schuller, which won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance and was named Billboard’s Top Classical Album for 1974.
Subsequently the motion picture “The Sting” brought ragtime to a wider audience with it’s soundtrack of Joplin tunes, The Entertainer becoming a Top-5 hit.
If you'd like to schedule an Allegheny City Ragtime Orchestra performance, get in touch with Tom Roberts: