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Paragon Ragtime Orchestra

Biography

Active: 1985 - ; Lewisburg, PA
The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra was founded in 1985 by Rick Benjamin. Its foundation was prompted by Benjamin's discovery of an enormous cache of musical arrangements belonging to a theater orchestra once led by Arthur Pryor, a library Benjamin rescued quite literally at the 11th hour from an abandoned warehouse about to be torn down. Benjamin organized a number of his fellow students at Juilliard to perform the material, and in 1988 the Paragon Read more Ragtime Orchestra made its public premiere at New York's Alice Tully Hall as the first period instrument ensemble to appear there.

Since then the group has been actively engaged in reviving American music of the ragtime era in a dizzying variety of venues throughout the world. In addition to performing concerts, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra also supplies music for dance companies, silent films, and making appearances at festivals and on public radio. In 1993 the group made an extended journey to Seville, Spain, as a U.S. Ambassador of Goodwill to the World's Universal Exposition. The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra also provides the music recordings utilized for the Main Street, U.S.A., installations at Disney's theme parks. The group's first recording, On the Boardwalk, appeared in 1986 on the Newport Classics label. Since then the group has recorded for Dorian, GB, Gaslight, Vanguard, and New World; in 2001 the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra began to record for its own label, Rialto.

Rick Benjamin has stated that the Pryor library is in itself so extensive and vast that Paragon almost never has to go outside of it for material, and that the group seldom uses arrangements sought from elsewhere or creates originals. Nonetheless, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra scored a hit in 2006 with its touring version of Benjamin's reconstruction of Scott Joplin's opera Treemonisha, premiered at the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco. In keeping with theater orchestras of the early 1900s, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra employs singers; in-house soprano is Jody Dall'Armi. Read less
Browse 1-9 of 9 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Minding the Score: The Music of Harry L. Alford
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80743 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Harry L. Alford,  Earl Fuller,  Shelton Brooks,  Carrie Jacobs-Bond  ... 
    Performer:  Rick Benjamin
    Conductor:  Rick Benjamin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
    On sale! $19.98
    CD: $16.99
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  • 2.
    Black Manhattan, Vol. 2 / Benjamin, Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80731 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Accooe,  Eubie Blake,  Bert Williams,  Wilbur C. Sweatman  ... 
    Performer:  Anita Johnson,  Edward Pleasant,  Robert Mack,  Linda Thompson Williams
    Conductor:  Rick Benjamin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
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    CD: $16.99
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  • 3.
    Joplin: Treemonisha / Rick Benjamin, Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80720 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Scott Joplin
    Performer:  Robert Mack,  Chauncey Packer,  Anita Johnson,  Frank Ward  ... 
    Conductor:  Rick Benjamin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
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    On sale! $41.98
    CD: $29.99
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  • 4.
    Midnight Frolic - The Broadway Theater Music Of Louis Hirsch
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80707 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Achille Hirsch
    Performer:  Bernadette Boerckel,  Julian Colte,  Paul Murphy,  James Musto III  ... 
    Conductor:  Rick Benjamin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
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    CD: $16.99
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  • 5.
    You're A Grand Old Rag - The Music Of George M. Cohan
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80685 Release Date: 11/11/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George M. Cohan
    Performer:  Bernadette Boerckel,  Colin Pritchard
    Conductor:  Rick Benjamin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
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  • 6.
    The Musical Odyssey Of Joe Jordan
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80649 Release Date: 10/23/2006  
    Composer:  Joe Jordan
    Performer:  Rick Benjamin,  Bernadette Boerckel,  Trevor B Smith
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra,  Paragon Singers,  Paragon's Pekin Band Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Black Manhattan - Rick Benjamin, Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80611 Release Date: 11/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Chris Smith,  John Rosamond Johnson,  Turner Layton,  James Timothy Brymn  ... 
    Performer:  Awet Andemicael,  Edward Pleasant
    Conductor:  Rick Benjamin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Whistler & His Dog / Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
    Label: Newport Classic   Catalog: 60069 Release Date: 10/14/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arthur Pryor
    Conductor:  Rick Benjamin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
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  • 9.
    On The Boardwalk / Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
    Label: Newport Classic   Catalog: 60039 Release Date: 12/15/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arthur Pryor
    Conductor:  Rick Benjamin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
    On sale! $18.98
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