Mary Sue Welsh discusses the life and career of Edna Phillips on Crossover, June 22nd, 2013.
Harpist Edna Phillips was only 23 when she joined The Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski in 1930. The story goes that the orchestra was looking for a second chair harpist, and Phillips' teacher at Curtis, Carlos Salzedo, insisted that she audition.
She was somewhat reluctant. After all, she'd only been playing the harp for five years, coming to the instrument late in life after spending time with the piano. But sometimes all it takes is being in the right place at the right time.
After her audition, Stokowski revealed that the orchestra's principal harpist had been badly injured and would not be returning. He wanted Phillips to fill the chair. This would make her not only the first woman in The Philadelphia Orchestra, but the first woman to be a principal player in ANY American orchestra.
In Phillips' later years, she was chair of the Bach Festival of Philadelphia where she hired Mary Sue Welsh, a retired editor of children's books. The two would become close friends. At one point, Phillips suggested to Welsh that they work together on a memoir of her life as a harpist. But, when Phillips passed on in 2003, Welsh tossed it aside.
Eventually, Welsh returned to the idea, and started working on a Phillips biography, talking to the harpist's family, friends, and co-workers, and using archival material. Recently published, the book is called, One Woman in a Hundred, and is part of the University of Illinois Press' "Music in American Life" series.
Listen for Jill Pasternak's conversation with author Mary Sue Welsh on the life and times of Edna Phillips, and hear excerpts from the author's taped conversations with the harpist, along with music performed by her, on Crossover, Saturday, June 22nd at 11:30 am on WRTI-FM and the All-Classical stream at wrti.org, with an encore the following Friday evening at 7 pm on HD-2 and the All-Classical stream.
I’m not sure what year I became a June Christy fan, but it must have been during her later years with the Stan Kenton band. I liked Kenton’s innovative approach to jazz. I first saw the band perform at Philly’s Academy of Music in the early 1950s. Christy was a member of the band at the time, but I don’t remember seeing her that night. At that time, almost everyone went to see Kenton’s trumpet virtuoso Maynard Ferguson—whose high notes on the instrument threatened to bring rain.
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s three-week swing through Germany, France, Holland and England left cheering audiences in its wake. Minutes before going onstage at London’s Royal Festival Hall for the final concert of the tour, Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns what made him the happiest.
David Patrick Stearns: The Viennese were the toughest. The Londoners were the smartest. The Parisians were...well, Yannick Nezet-Seguin explained it best.
Pianist Harold Mabern is a two-fisted swinger, a legendary presence on the many great Blue Note dates of the ’60s, who continues to add a distinctive groove to his many solo projects. He’s partial to playing blocks of chords hard and quick, as if he needs to get somewhere fast. His melodic ideas seem to dance from his fingertips. It’s his signature technique combined with a sound that’s shot through with honey-dripping soul, as sweet and graceful as can be.
Born in Bologna in 1879, Italian violinist, violist, conductor and composer Ottorino Respighi moved to Rome in 1913. He became internationally recognized for his trilogy of symphonic poems celebrating the fountains, pines, and festivals of the city.
WRTI's Susan Lewis considers The Pines of Rome, performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra. She spoke with organist Michael Stairs and Associate Principal Clarinet Samuel Caviezel.
One of the largest musical instruments is also among the most public. WRTI’s Susan Lewis considers carillons and their bells, which are ringing out in summer concert series all over the greater Philadelphia region.
Susan Lewis: A carillon is a set of large cast bronze bells suspended on a frame, usually at the top of a tall partially enclosed tower.
Janet Tebbel: I love being up here because of all these big bells.
In June of 1912, Igor Stravinsky premiered the piano version of his daring new work The Rite of Spring, a year before its orchestral unveiling. His piano-playing partner was none other than Claude Debussy. Classical music has never been the same since the public first heard it.
The 800 members of the League of American Orchestras come from across the country. They include big, small, and medium-sized ensembles, and related arts and cultural organizations. Jesse Rosen is the president and CEO of the League. He spoke with WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston about some of the things happening around the nation as orchestras reinvent their approaches to concerts and audiences.
By the time our Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast airs on Sunday, June 7th, the Orchestra will have just completed its European tour with a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London. WRTI will, however, continue to air Philadelphia Orchestra broadcasts of this season’s concerts through early July.
Get ready to hear some of the most beloved songs in musical theater - presented by one of the most beloved opera companies in America - "June is Bustin' Out All Over," "If I Loved You," You'll Never Walk Alone," and more! Saturday, June 13, 1 to 4 pm on WRTI.
Swaggering, carefree carnival barker, Billy Bigelow, captivates and marries the naive millworker, Julie Jordan. But all too soon, they fall on hard times and unbearable loss. Yet the power of love perseveres, as do the tuneful hits in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel!