Memorial Day is known as the unofficial start of summer, but was established to honor fallen troops who gave their lives for our country. Join WRTI as we honor both aspects of this holiday weekend. We'll provide the perfect music to fuel your holiday barbeque all weekend long, featuring a type of jazz that - historically - goes hand-in hand with patriotism – Big Band!
Family, fortune, and honor—the geisha Cio-Cio-San forsakes them all for the callous American naval officer who calls her his "bride." But what she sees as a lifetime commitment, he treats as just a fleeting pleasure.
Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly features some of opera's most famous music, including Cio-Cio-San's heartbreaking "Un bel di" and the beautiful "Humming Chorus." It's Puccini's heartbreaking tragedy on WRTI. Saturday, May 24, 1 to 4 pm.
Saxophonist and Prism Quartet founder Matthew Levy has spent his career getting other composers played; now the spotlight's on him in a new CD, and what a brilliance it reveals.
Call the Prism Saxophone Quartet contemporary-classical, call them avant-jazz, even call them omnivorous, but whatever you call them, they've been setting the gold standard for three decades. 2014 is in fact their 30th anniversary, and in that time, while centered in Philadelphia, they've been everywhere, stretching styles while inhabiting classical, jazz, world, and rock idioms.
Prism has commissioned more than 150 works, but in People's Emergency Center (Innova) they turn the entire two-disc set over to Matthew Levy.
People's Emergency Center is the first movement of Been There, and is also the name of a shelter helping women and children in West Philadelphia. It and the second movement, Gymnopedie (the word Erik Satie coined for his most famous piece), are culled from Levy's music for a documentary about the shelter. The Prism four (Timothy McAllister, Taimur Sullivan, Zachary Shemon, and Levy), bass, drums, guitar, and former Prism member Tim Ries on soprano saxophone all create magic with swirling precision.
Levy's voice is at once vernacular and otherworldly, steeped in jazz but living in—as Henry Cowell would have it—the whole world of music. Serial Mood seems to ponder that post-Schoenberg world of harmony, and in doing so reveals a tasty secret known to Dizzy Gillespie, Gunther Schuller, and a few other hep cats: If you play 12-tone music with a hard, swinging beat, it sounds for all the world like be-bop.
That's one of the unexpected treats that Levy offers. Another is the overarching spirit of generosity—to the listener and to each player. All the music of his I've heard exhibits this. Whether it's rhythmically striking, sonically challenging, or a charming tune, it is genial music offered warmly to a real world filled with real people who want something good to hear. An excellent example is Brown Eyes, which here employs the whole band, but which Levy first had played in public in a smaller version. The occasion of the premiere? His wedding.
[Been There and Brown Eyes were featured on Now Is the Time, May 10, 2014.]
He stood five feet, two inches tall, and his musical colleagues dubbed him “Swee’ Pea,” after the little character in the Popeye cartoons. But Billy Strayhorn ranked with the giants that composed enduring standard popular music. He was also nobody’s cartoon character. The handle was a reverent tease, applied by Strayhorn’s musical associates in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast this Sunday at 1 pm opens with a collection of “Symphonic Fragments” from Alfredo Casella’s rarely performed opera La Donna Serpente(The Snake-Woman), based on an 18th-century fable-play by Carlo Gozzi, and is followed by one of Sergei Prok
Early 20th-century Italian composer, pianist, and conductor Alfredo Casella promoted music of his compatriots. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the 21st-century conductor Giandrea Noseda is shining a light on Casella’s lesser-known work.
Listen to a performance of Alfredo Casella's Barcarola e Scherzo for Flute and Piano, Op. 4 (1903):
Whenever Charlie Parker played a solo, you knew you'd feel good by the end. Opera Philadelphia is jumping off an even higher dive - an opera about the celebrated saxophonist, titled Charlie Parker's Yardbird that the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports will bring many unexpected things to the Perelman Theater at its 2015 premiere.