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WRTI Arts Desk
6:30 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Modern Music's Debt to Philip Glass

Philip Glass with WRTI's Kile Smith at the Free Library of Philadelphia
Andy Kahan

Philip Glass is one of the most influential composers of the last 50 years. He’s not the only composer to use slowly changing repetition as a formal device, but his prolific output and the legacy of decades of performances by the Philip Glass Ensemble, have made his sound-world recognizable to millions.

He’s composed numbers well into the double digits of symphonies, operas, and film soundtracks, along with string quartets, concertos, ballets, songs, and so much more. His autobiography Words without Music recounts what Ornette Coleman told him: there was a difference between the music world and the music business. It's a lesson he never forgot.

He worked in his father’s Baltimore record store, and was a furniture mover, cab driver, and plumber. He studied at Juilliard and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, then formed his ensemble and began touring. Operas, beginning with Einstein on the Beach, made him so famous that Peter Schickele poked fun with a P.D.Q. Bach opera, Einstein on the Fritz. Philip Glass loved it.

He's worked with Ravi Shankar, Martin Scorsese, Samuel Beckett, and David Bowie, and broke down the wall between uptown classical and downtown vernacular. The sound of contemporary music is due, in no small part, to Philip Glass.

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WRTI Arts Desk
6:07 am
Mon April 20, 2015

The Beloved Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song

Ella Fitzgerald recorded more than 200 albums in her lifetime.

The great Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25th, 1917, and died in 1996. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, "The Queen of Jazz" - also called "The First Lady of Song," left a lasting legacy on American song and jazz.

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WRTI Arts Desk
5:26 pm
Sat April 18, 2015

Crash! Ting! Boom! Gong! Those Colorful Percussion Sounds

Angela Zater Nelson

The word percussion comes from the Latin word percussionem, meaning 'to strike.'  But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, playing percussion in a symphony orchestra also requires rhythm, musicality, and physical grace.

Percussion instruments can keep the beat, but they also add color. Angela Zator Nelson is The Philadelphia Orchestra’s associate principal timpani and a member of the percussion section.

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Crossover
3:54 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis & Guitarist Jason Vieaux are Together on 'Together'

Yolanda Kondonassis and guitarist Jason Vieaux

Those of a certain age remember the old Certs breath mint commercial, "It's TWO, TWO, TWO mints in one!"  This week on Crossover, it's TWO, TWO, TWO great musicians in one! Grammy-nominated harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and Grammy-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux are duet partners on their new CD, Together

A harp and a guitar - two plucked instruments played "together" by their virtuoso owners? This is quite a unique duo of instruments that wouldn't normally share the stage. But...maybe it's time they did!

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Rossen Milanov Conducts
3:52 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Symphony in C on WRTI: All Brahms, April 19 at 3 PM

Alon Goldstein

It’s an all Brahms program with Symphony in C, on Sunday at 3 pm on WRTI. Pianist Alon Goldstein joins Symphony in C for Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1.  The program concludes with the composer’s lyrical Symphony No. 3 in F Major. Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts.  Don’t miss it!

Program:

Rossen Milanov, conductor

Alon Goldstein, piano

Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 90

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI
5:47 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI: Gergiev Conducts Russian Masterworks, April 19, 1 PM

Valery Gergiev

It's always an exciting occasion when Valery Gergiev conducts the Russian masterworks. And on this Sunday's Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast at 1 pm on WRTI, Maestro Gergiev will be on the podium to direct three of the treasures of the Russian repertoire, in what was his only American symphonic guest conducting appearance this season. 

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WRTI Arts Desk
10:50 am
Thu April 16, 2015

Bohuslav Martinu's Memorial to Lidice: Remembering a Czech Town Obliterated by the Nazis

This photo of the children of Lidice was taken two days before the 1942 massacre of their village. Most of them were gassed to death at Chelmno.

On June 10th, 1942, Nazis swept in and obliterated the village outside of Prague. They killed the men, sent the women and most of the children to concentration camps, and burnt or leveled the entire town - even the cemetery.

Why? The week before, elite forces had assassinated one of the chief architects of the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” So Hitler then ordered the extermination of the little village, which just happened to be near that attack. Its name was Lidice.

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Jazz Night In America on WRTI: April 19th, 8 PM
3:57 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Home Cookin' - The Philadelphia Jazz Organ Tradition In Concert on WRTI

Organist Sonny Keaton performs during the Home Cookin' concert at World Cafe Live.
WXPN

The Hammond electronic organ was developed with churches in mind, as a lower-cost alternative to pipe organs. But in Philadelphia, a keyboard player named Jimmy Smith was inspired by early jazz experiments on the instrument, and found a devastating way to adapt the new bebop style to the Hammond B-3.

It seeded a new tradition of organ players in Philadelphia — major figures like "Groove" Holmes, Jimmy McGriff, Papa John and Joey DeFrancesco, and Trudy Pitts — and started a new sound in jazz at large.

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WRTI Spotlight
11:55 am
Tue April 14, 2015

The Met Opera on WRTI: LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK, April 18, 1 PM

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Katerina in Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.
Ken Howard

Join us this Saturday for a rare revival of Dmitri Shostakovich’s searing drama Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, heard in an archived Met Opera performance from November. Shostakovich’s towering tragedy of adultery and murder stars the commanding dramatic soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek as the heroine who suffers the vicissitudes of her treachery. Brandon Jovanovich is her co-conspirator and lover, and James Conlon conducts. Saturday, April 18, 1 to 4:15 pm on WRTI.

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Philadelphia Music Makers, April 19, 5 PM
3:11 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Three Moments of Magic for David Kim

David Kim
Ryan Donnell

“You fool,” David Kim said to himself. He looked out the window at the moon. He and his wife had just seen the movie Jerry Maguire, with Tom Cruise as the sports agent trying to make the A-level. David Kim had spent his entire life trying to make the A-level. And it wasn’t happening.

His mother, before he was born, vowed to make him a violin star. His parents came to the U.S. from South Korea, and from Rochester, N.Y. to Western Pennsylvania to South Carolina, his mother was a true “Tiger mom,” he says, constantly pushing him to excel. She got him an audition with Dorothy DeLay at Juilliard, mentor to so many of the world’s top soloists. DeLay accepted him on the spot after what he describes as a “magical” audition.

From Clarion, Pa., the family drove eight hours for David to attend the Juilliard Pre-College Division. From South Carolina he and his mother flew once a month. Of DeLay he has the “few really happy memories” of that time; she was “sweet, genuine, soft-spoken, charismatic, motivational,” and perhaps most important of all, “encouraging.”

Three to five hours every day he practiced. He went to Aspen nine weeks each summer, but his playing regressed because, alone, he stopped pushing himself. DeLay noticed, and so did his mother. But in one phone call she was uncharacteristically subdued. When he returned home at the end of the summer, he found out that his mother was sick with cancer. She died within months. He was 14.

From the award-winning movie, Music from the Inside Out, David Kim reflects on his life:

David stopped working hard and he struggled at school. But DeLay made a plan. In six years, she said, he would get into the International Tchaikovsky Competition, and he would win one of the eight medals. They made it happen, and in the second round he “felt a certain magic happening” as he played. In 1986 David Kim was the only American violinist to win a medal. He thought his career was made.

He would learn differently. There are many competitions, and many winners, and this one prize, as fantastic as it was, “wasn’t special enough to really warrant an A-list career.” So he played lots of concerts in small halls, in churches, and puffed himself up to others. “I was living this fake life,” he confesses. And he came to a decision.

“You fool,” he said in his apartment, looking at the moon, “you are never going to be a soloist.”

So he applied for orchestra jobs, and after a string of losing auditions, he realized that “there’s an art to taking an orchestral audition.” He worked harder, kept taking them, and finally, on one day, was offered two jobs. He accepted the associate concertmaster position at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He learned enormously, and a year later, The Philadelphia Orchestra called. They were having invitation-only auditions for concertmaster. David thought this was “way out of my league” but went anyway, with “zero expectations.”

But at the Philadelphia audition magic struck again, the same feeling he had at the Tchaikovsky, the same feeling he had auditioning for Dorothy DeLay. The phone rang later, and Joseph Kluger, the Orchestra’s president at the time, asked him, “How would you feel about moving to Philadelphia?”

David admits to making mistakes early on but he grew into the concertmaster position he accepted in 1999. His Christian faith grew at the same time, and he now has a peace knowing that he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t God’s will. “Being yourself, you free yourself,” he says, and he is surrounded by an orchestra that is a positive, encouraging, and loving community.

After years of scrambling for something that didn’t exist, he is thankful for his faith, his wife, his daughters, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. In his 16th year as concertmaster, David Kim says, “I am the luckiest guy in the whole world.”

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