Steam calliope to visit weekend ragtime festival

ORBISONIA -The Central Pennsylvania Ragtime Festival will be bigger than ever this year – and louder, thanks to a visiting steam calliope on which festival performers will offer a free public concert at the Rockhill Trolley Museum at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Getz’s Steam Calliope, a 40-note instrument that is believed to be the largest steam calliope in the world, carries on an American musical tradition made famous by Mississippi steamboats. In addition to the free afternoon concert, the calliope will be used during the festival’s Saturday evening dinner gala, which will also feature piano and vocals.

Returning to perform for the festival are Frederick Hodges, the San Francisco ragtime-piano virtuoso; Adam Swanson, the 22-year-old performer, recording artist and champion of ragtime who won the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest three years in a row; Bryan Wright, a pianist and Ph.D. candidate in music history at the University of Pittsburgh; and Ann Gibson, a popular San Francisco singer with a repertoire of songs from World War I and the 1920s.

Added to the lineup of featured musicians this year is Domingo Mancuello, a University of the Arts student now making a name for himself in East Coast ragtime circles.

The festival will open at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Orbisonia Presbyterian Church with silent films accompanied on piano by Hodges and Swanson. Following the films, ticketed festivalgoers may join performers around the player piano at the Iron Rail B&B for an after-hours event.

Leading a 10:30 a.m. Saturday workshop at the B&B on nickelodeons, player pianos, band organs and other mechanical instruments will be T.J. Fisher, a Washington & Lee University student.

At 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, all performers will gather at the Church of the Nazarene on Meadow Street in Rockhill Furnace for a formal concert. That will be followed at 4 p.m. by the free public calliope concert, which will take place at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

At 6:30 p.m., festivalgoers will enjoy private calliope, piano and voice performances as they dine at the trolley museum’s pavilion, then board a restored trolley for a nighttime ride.

On Sunday morning there will be a special, music-themed service at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Mount Union. At 12:30 p.m., there will be a country picnic and concert at Valley Point Church of the Brethren in Blacklog Valley. Featured will be Ann Gibson

For ticket prices and more information, contact David Brightbill, festival director, at or (814) 447-3984.