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

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Creatively Speaking
12:51 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

The Philadelphia Orchestra in China: Connecting With Autistic Children And Cancer Patients

Philadelphia Orchestra members with autistic children during an in-school program at a Youth Center in Shanghai. Percussionists Christopher Deviney (front) and Angela Zator Nelson work with one student as he tries his hand at the drums.
Jan Regan

In the title of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2013 China Tour and Residency, the word “residency” is as important as the word "tour." And this, as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns now reports from China, is bringing the musicians face-to-face with many who may never see the inside of a concert hall.

Creatively Speaking
7:43 am
Tue June 4, 2013

The Philadelphia Orchestra in China: Greeted Like Rock Stars!

Flute player Lu Chunling, who performed at the Arrival Ceremony at the Shanghai Pudong Airport, presents flowers to Orchestra violinist Davyd Booth, one of the original Orchestra members to have been part of the 1973 Tour of China.
Jan Regan

Celebrations of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 40th anniversary tour to China have begun with the kind of fanfare usually associated with rock stars. Upon landing at the Shanghai airport for a two-week tour, the jet-lagged musicians were greeted by TV camera crews and key figures from the original visit, including a 92-year-old Chinese flutist who had composed a new piece for the occasion. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports from China.

Creatively Speaking
8:13 am
Mon May 27, 2013

The Philadelphia Orchestra in China: Part One

Maestro Eugene Ormandy at the Great Wall of China in 1973, during the Orchestra's first visit to China.

For the eighth time in its history, The Philadelphia Orchestra is performing in China. Like last year, the focus is on residencies where the Orchestra becomes part of the community playing impromptu concerts in public places, and having joint rehearsals and concerts with the local orchestras. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns is traveling with the Philadelphians and files this report.

Creatively Speaking
1:28 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Creativity Forged From A Hurricane's Destruction

Artist Laurie Anderson with the Kronos Quartet

The New York City artist community was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed many works by current painters and sculptors. When the performance artist and composer Laurie Anderson peered into her basement, she saw her personal archive - decades of papers, prop,s and important artistic keepsakes  - floating.

So Anderson decided, as The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns now reports, to create a piece about it with the Kronos Quartet titled Landfall.

Creatively Speaking
9:48 pm
Sun May 12, 2013

The Yellow Ticket: An Early Record of 20th-Century Anti-Semitism

The 2013 Philadelphia Jewish Music Festival concluded with a curious 1918 silent film, The Yellow Ticket, presented at the Gershman Y in Center City, with live musical accompaniment that gave the often-grainy images a new life and renewed meaning. One of the first films about anti-Semitism, The Yellow Ticket reminded The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns just how much the world has changed – and how much it has yet to change.

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Creatively Speaking
9:45 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Yannick's Latest Recording: Hear It Here First!

If the classical recording market is supposedly global, why is a major Yannick Nezet-Seguin recording available seemingly everywhere but here? The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns sent away to Japan for the conductor’s new Rotterdam Philharmonic recording - and wonders why.


Creatively Speaking
6:05 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Grammy-Winning Eighth Blackbird Helms Schoenberg At Curtis

eighth blackbird

Once ignored by conservatories and reviled by audiences, Schoenberg’s half-spoken, half-sung Pierrot Lunaire is being intensively rehearsed for performances by Curtis Institute of Music musicians on Monday and Tuesday of next week (April 15th and 16th).

As The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports, the instigators are visiting professors who don’t look much different from the students: the modern music ensemble eighth blackbird, who are in the first year of a three-year residency that should extend the Curtis tradition to the cutting edge.

Creatively Speaking
7:43 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

Good People At The Walnut Street Theatre: The Playwright's Story

Playwright David Lindsay Abaire

David Lindsay-Abaire would seem to have a case of multiple creative personalities. The Pulitzer-winning playwright wrote the book and lyrics to Shrek the Musical and worked on the screenplay to The Great and Powerful Oz. 

He’s now represented by a hugely different theatrical work at the Walnut Street Theatre, a play titled Good People about hard-scrabble life and class struggle in South Boston, or “Southie.” The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns spoke to the playwright in his Brooklyn home and discovered that Good People is the real him.

Creatively Speaking
11:42 am
Tue March 19, 2013

An Insider's Look At Outsider Musicians

Princeton University student and guitarist Matthew Mullane

“Great and Mighty Things” are being seen at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That’s the title of a highly unorthodox exhibition of self-taught or outsider art: works by people unschooled, unfiltered, and unmediated by outside aesthetics, but created out of a pure inner need.

But don't think that outsider artists are confined to the idiosyncratic paintings, drawings and sculptures that  can be seen at the museum through June. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns hears outsider composers everywhere, even in the insider realms of Princeton University.


Creatively Speaking
8:48 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

All About Jennifer Higdon: A Classical Composer For Philadelphia And Beyond

Composer Jennifer Higdon with Beau.

This month, WRTI is showcasing the works of various women composers. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston looks at a Philadelphia favorite: Jennifer Higdon.

Philadelphia’s Jennifer Higdon is among the most frequently performed living American composers. Now 50, the successful, unpretentious, and endlessly creative Higdon is adding an opera to her extensive repertoire. It’s a joint commission of The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia based on Charles Frazier’s Civil War novel Cold Mountain. Higdon’s family moved from Atlanta to east Tennessee when she was an adolescent– about 40 miles, she says, as the crow flies from Cold Mountain. That geographic proximity fueled her insight into the characters she’s recasting in operatic form.

Higdon’s partner, Cheryl Lawson, runs Lawdon Press, the company that publishes and distributes Higdon’s works.  Among her most-performed compositions is blue cathedral, a tone poem she wrote after the death, from cancer, of her brother Andrew Blue Higdon. Her works have been recorded on dozens of CDs and performed around the world.  


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