David Patrick Stearns

Arts Reporter

David Patrick Stearns is classical music critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer and arts reporter for WRTI's Creatively Speaking. He received his master's degree in musicology from New York University while working as music and theater critic for USA Today. He wrote the documentary film David Amram: The First 80 Years and is currently at work on two other documentaries. He is a frequent recording reviewer for the London-based magazine Gramophone. He is also a contributor to Opera News, The Guardian and Obit-Mag.com


WRTI Arts Desk
12:29 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Exploring PA's Historic Coal-Mining Culture...Through Song

Composer Julia Wolfe, composer of ANTHRACITE FIELDS, a Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia commision, has won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

The Mendelssohn Club Choir mounted its biggest-ever production last April, 2014 with the premiere of Anthracite Fields by the cutting-edge composer Julia Wolfe, who is exploring the coal-mining culture in her Pennsylvania roots. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns met with her...inside a coal mine. 


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WRTI Arts Desk
6:07 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Warming Up for Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain

Jennifer Higdon's first opera, COLD MOUNTAIN, premieres in Philadelphia in January, 2016.

Operagoers have a number of months to wait for the Jennifer Higdon/Gene Scheer opera, Cold Mountain, which premieres in Santa Fe in August, and then in February 2016 at Philadelphia's Academy of Music. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns caught a sneak preview at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, where singers and authors were interviewed and excerpts were performed.

"A fence is a very good thing."

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WRTI Arts Desk
9:02 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Searching For Sunken Musical Treasure in the Milwaukee River

The 2014 reissue of The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume 2

The boxed set, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume 2, recorded from 1928 to 1932, documents American music at its most basic. The original vinyl records from which the set is derived are so sought after that the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns found a collector who had been skin diving in the Milwaukee River in search of the elusive discs.

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WRTI Arts Desk
12:21 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Opera Gets Out Of The House

The Philadelphia Singers

So you thought you could escape from opera by simply staying out of the opera house? Not any more. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns takes a tour of opera performed in barrooms, the Philly Fringe Festival, and at concerts by The Philadelphia Singers.


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WRTI Arts Desk
2:12 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

What Did Bach Sound Like In The Time of Mendelssohn?

J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

Musicians have struggled to determine what J.S. Bach sounded like in his own time for decades. As The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports, The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia turned back the clock in a different direction on February 8th at Girard College, determining what Bach sounded like in the time of...Mendelssohn.

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WRTI Arts Desk
12:49 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Dawn Upshaw's Master Class Brings Together Vocalists and Composers of New Music

Dominic M. Mercier

Having premiered much new music, soprano Dawn Upshaw held a master class for singers and Opera Philadelphia's composers in residence…together! The better they understand each other, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns, the better listeners will understand them. 

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WRTI Arts Desk
12:39 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Mozart In The Market: The Philadelphia Orchestra Pops Up At Reading Terminal

Moses Smucker, from the Reading Terminal Market's Smucker's Quality Meats & Grill, stepped out to conduct Mozart.
Pete Checchia

You never know where you're going to run into The Philadelphia Orchestra. An earthquake zone in China? Tokyo's Suntory Hall? Last week, as The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports, it was the Reading Terminal Market, where 11 string players crowded into the lunchtime bustle and invited everyday people to try their hand at conducting.

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WRTI Arts Desk
8:37 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Squid Sounds: Composer Bhob Rainey's Axon Ladder

Composer Bhob Rainey

For many people, squid means calamari – not music. But for Philadelphia composer Bhob Rainey, the squid's neuron activity is the starting point of the new electronic music piece that he unveiled recently at the Vox Populi art space. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns charted the distance between squid and sound.

Radio script:

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WRTI Arts Desk
1:13 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Field Hockey...The Musical?

The Strokanov sisters are featured in 11th Hour Theatre Company's FIELD HOCKEY HOT.


New musicals don’t often arise in Philadelphia. Musicals about sports come along even more seldom. But a musical about field hockey, developed by Philadelphia’s 11th Hour Theatre Company, is unprecedented. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns walked into the company's South Philly rehearsal studios hardly knowing what field hockey is. 

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Creatively Speaking
6:05 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Tempesta di Mare Illumines Music from the Time of the Sun King

Tempesta di Mare director Richard Stone, artistic director Gwyn Roberts, concertmaster Emlyn Ngai. Photo credit: Andy Kahl

Music in the era of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, has enjoyed an acclaimed rediscovery in Europe. However, few American groups have taken up this music of the French Baroque, aside from Philadelphia's Tempesta di Mare. As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports, the early-music orchestra has started a multi-year project of concerts and recordings.

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