A New Memoir Takes You Inside The World Of An Orchestral Percussionist

The path to landing a full-time position as an orchestral musician can be a rocky and competitive climb. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, one successful percussion player says it's all about staying with it, and "Sticking It Out," which is the title of a new memoir by Patti Niemi.
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Hulton archive

After publicly resisting the growing fascism in Europe in the 1930s, Hungarian pianist and composer Bela Bartok eventually fled his homeland. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, he wrote his Second Violin Concerto not long before emigrating to the United States.


Twentieth-century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich composed much of his work under the shadow of political oppression. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, today, his music and his personal story continue to inspire a new generation.


The vocal virtuosity of one of the last century’s jazz giants lives on through those who came after her, scores of albums, and now a U.S. Postal Service stamp. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston and Bob Perkins consider the late, great Sarah Vaughan. Check  out the Philadelphia Clef Club's Sarah Vaughan Tribute on Thursday, June 2nd from 5 to 9 pm with live music and a display of rare and vintage photographs and art works capturing the "Divine One," exhibited along with U.S. Postal Service postage stamps and memorabilia.

Although you may not realize that it was first composed as a military march, you’ll instantly recognize one of Sir Edward Elgar’s most popular works, "Pomp and Circumstance, March No. 1 in D," - especially the nearly two-minute middle section so commonly associated with graduation. 

The Estonians are serious about singing. The power of human voices practically propelled the small Baltic country to independence during the Soviet era. In the late 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Estonians routinely gathered to perform forbidden patriotic songs. The events energized the nation, leading to what was called the "Singing Revolution."

Twentieth-century German composer Kurt Weill’s popular music for theater eventually overshadowed his orchestral and classical work. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on his second symphony, and why it was not heard for decades.


WRTI's Mark Pinto fills us in on the latest classical music CDs Saturdays at 5 pm on Classical New Releases. Here are five newly released recordings he recommends:

Julieta Cervantes

Philadelphia has long been known as a theater tryout town, but one show that many have forgotten is the first mainstream African American hit Shuffle Along. Now, a documentary revision of the 1921 jazz musical is back and is a big Broadway hit.  The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns examines its local roots.

Kate Raines/Plate 3 Photography

As the lights go down, and the play or opera begins, you may be wondering about the meaning of a word you read in the theater program. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston introduces Sarah Ollove, who says most people don't have a clue what her job entails.  


Ralph J. Gleason is my hero.

It's impossible to put an exact date on it, but I think I started reading his column in Rolling Stone in the summer of 1973. I was 14 years old and already immersed in music. Reading him, I discovered you could write about music and get paid for it — and then I discovered his writing was just as immersive as the music we both loved.

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WRTI Arts Desk

Hulton archive

After publicly resisting the growing fascism in Europe in the 1930s, Hungarian pianist and composer Bela Bartok eventually fled his homeland. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, he wrote his Second Violin Concerto not long before emigrating to the United States.


Twentieth-century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich composed much of his work under the shadow of political oppression. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, today, his music and his personal story continue to inspire a new generation.


The vocal virtuosity of one of the last century’s jazz giants lives on through those who came after her, scores of albums, and now a U.S. Postal Service stamp. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston and Bob Perkins consider the late, great Sarah Vaughan. Check  out the Philadelphia Clef Club's Sarah Vaughan Tribute on Thursday, June 2nd from 5 to 9 pm with live music and a display of rare and vintage photographs and art works capturing the "Divine One," exhibited along with U.S. Postal Service postage stamps and memorabilia.

Austrian composer Anton Webern became famous as a member of the "Second Viennese School," known for writing atonal music. But, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, an early work - officially premiered decades after Webern’s death - shows another side to the 20th-century modernist.


Although you may not realize that it was first composed as a military march, you’ll instantly recognize one of Sir Edward Elgar’s most popular works, "Pomp and Circumstance, March No. 1 in D," - especially the nearly two-minute middle section so commonly associated with graduation. 

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