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Crossover
3:22 pm
Fri June 12, 2015

The Reluctant Trailblazer: Philadelphia Orchestra Harpist Edna Phillips

Emil Rhodes, Family Collection

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.

Latest from ICON Magazine
11:22 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

June Christy Was Something Cool

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.

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WRTI Arts Desk
11:32 am
Tue June 9, 2015

Yannick Nezet-Seguin On The Highs and Lows of the Orchestra's European Tour

Yannick Nezet-Seguin at Royal Festival Hall in London.
Jan Regan

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.

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Latest from ICON Magazine
6:52 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Harold Mabern, Modern Bebop, and Irresistible Singers

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.

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WRTI Arts Desk
4:29 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

The Pines of Rome: A Musical Portrait

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. 

WRTI Arts Desk
2:27 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Music is Ringing Out This Summer!

Carillon concerts are scheduled throughout our region over the summer. Look at the bottom of the post for concert listings!

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.   

Radio Script:

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.

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WRTI Arts Desk
6:55 am
Mon June 8, 2015

After 'The Rite of Spring,' Classical Music Was Never the Same

Debussy, Stravinsky, 1910
Erik Satie

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.
 

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WRTI Arts Desk
6:49 am
Mon June 8, 2015

Changing Times, Changing Orchestras

At a Philadelphia Orchestra LiveNote Night, college students receive help using the Orchestra's new LiveNote app.
Pete Checchia The Philadelphia Orchestra

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.  

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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI
11:45 am
Fri June 5, 2015

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI: Mozart and Beethoven on Sunday, June 7th at 1 PM

Paul Goodwin conducts this week's concert broadcast.

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.

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Opera on WRTI
8:52 am
Fri June 5, 2015

Lyric Opera of Chicago on WRTI: The Iconic American Musical CAROUSEL, Saturday, June 13, 1 PM

Laura Osens sings Jule Jordan and Steven Pasquale sings Bille Bigelow in Rodgers and Hammerstein's CAROUSEL.
Todd Rosenberg

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!

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