A Classical Thanksgiving on WRTI 90.1

Family, friends, food—they're all part of our Thanksgiving memories. WRTI brings you the perfect soundtrack for the holiday, and dishes out second helpings of music along with some very special programs in the afternoon.

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The complex story behind one of the most recorded songs in the "Great American Songbook" is the basis for a documentary being screened on Thursday, November 9th during this year's Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival.

Chad Lawson's interpretation of Chopin's nocturnes, preludes, and waltzes involves a surprising reconfiguration of the piano, and offers a sense of intimacy with the music that is likely new to most listeners.  A couple of years ago,  WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston learned about the power of simplicity in her conversation with pianist Chad Lawson.

The leader of an ensemble such as Temple University’s Symphony Orchestra does much to educate and prepare the next generation of musicians. WRTI's Susan Lewis talked with Artistic Director Andreas Delfs, who says the learning goes both ways.   


What a treat we had on November 2nd when pianist Charlie Albright stopped by to perform LIVE on WRTI 90.1 a little after 3 pm. WRTI Classical Host Jack Moore asked Charlie a few questions about his All-Beethoven concerts coming up with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia on Sunday, November 5th at 2:30 pm, and Monday, November 7th at 7:30 pm at the Kimmel Center.

Kile Smith

Anniversaries bump into each other on this Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday from 5 to 6 pm on WRTI. It’s year 500 since the beginning of the Reformation, almost to the day, when Martin Luther posted 95 theological and ecclesiastical points he wished to debate with all comers. Nobody dared to take him up on it, but from the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517 a revolution in religion, humanism, freedom, and language swept across the world. And it was accompanied by music.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was so distressed by the negative reaction to the 1897 premiere of his first symphony, he stopped composing for nearly three years. What restored his confidence to compose his much-loved Piano Concerto No.2? WRTI’s Susan Lewis has the story.

Library of Congress

In the midst of World War II, a collaboration between choreographer Martha Graham and composer Aaron Copland gave birth to an enduring American classic. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston hears Appalachian Spring in a new way.

George Antheil’s Ballet Mécanique is not for dancers, but percussionists. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the 1924 concert piece was revised in 1953, and continues to challenge performers with its fast pace, syncopated rhythms, and unusual orchestration.

Jazz pianist and singer Nat "King" Cole, the first African American to host his own TV variety show in 1956, was known for his great talent and his grace, even in the face of mistreatment and racial discrimination. WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports on a new play that explores what this grace must have cost him.

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WRTI Arts Desk

While Samuel Barber is best known for his moving Adagio for Strings, first performed in a radio broadcast in November of 1938, he wrote a lot of other music that continues to inspire musicians and listeners to this day. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with filmmaker Paul Moon about his documentary, Samuel Barber: Absolute Beauty, which had its Philadelphia premiere in July, 2017 on WHYY-TV.   

Jennifer Higdon’s concerto, On a Wire, was inspired by images of birds, as well as the innovative versatility of the musicians of Eighth Blackbird, the contemporary soloist ensemble. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

How about a hollowed-out pumpkin as a drum? What about a carrot as a flute? Brussel sprouts rubbed together as squeaky keepers of the beat. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston learns about vegetables with a life beyond the table. Since its official debut in 2011, the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra has evolved, this year appointing its first music director.


Steak sizzling on a grill at Pat's King of Steaks. A chorus of birdsong at the Philadelphia Zoo. These are just a few of the hundreds of sounds composer Tod Machover is collecting from people who live here for a unique musical profile to be performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra in April.

It's National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. WRTI's Susan Lewis reports on a musical work commissioned by a man to honor his parents who died of the disease. The work for chorus, soloists, and small orchestra surprised even the composer in its power to heal.   

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