Debra Lew Harder

Classical Host, Arts Desk Reporter

A concert pianist, teacher, and writer, Debra has always believed in the power of art to transform people's lives.

Debra has performed with orchestras throughout the U.S., and in solo recital and lecture-recital at Wigmore Hall in London, The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago, the Xavier University Piano Series in Cincinnati,  American University in Washington, D.C., the historic Barocksaal in Rostock, Germany, New York City’s Merkin Hall, Haverford College's Guest Artists Series, the Jefferson Medical College Dean's Concert Series, the Legg-Mason Annual Intellectual Capital Conference, and at Camden-Rutgers University.

She was the founder of the Grand Piano Concert Series in Columbus, Ohio, and has appeared in collaboration with many artists, including Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim, cellist Efe Balticigil, violinists Hirono Oka and Barbara Govatos, and many others. Her piano trio, Trio Miresol, is a popular presence around the Philadelphia region.

Debra earned a medical degree and practiced as an emergency room physician before earning a second doctorate in music from the Ohio State University, where she studied with, and served as teaching assistant to, the legendary American virtuoso Earl Wild.

A devoted music educator, Debra has taught at The Ohio State University and currently is on the piano faculty of Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges. Her creative output includes nationally published essays, as well as numerous transcriptions for solo piano from the jazz, orchestral and non-Western repertoire.

With her husband Tom, she lives in the Philadelphia area; they have two wonderful daughters, an equally wonderful son-in-law, and an incorrigible terrier.

Hear Debra on Saturday mornings, 6 am to 12 noon, and as a substitute host during weekday classical hours. She also produces Arts Desk features.
 

Ways to Connect

NASA

Solar eclipse fever has seized America!  And whether you're watching outside with "eclipse glasses," or inside – on TV or online – WRTI is here to keep you company with great music inspired by the heavens! 


As we celebrate the legacy of jazz pianist Bill Evans, you might be surprised to know that some cool cats named Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and especially—Johann Sebastian Bach—helped shape his sound.

In an era when women had little voice, 12th-century abbess Hildegard of Bingen founded her own women's monastery, authored volumes of sacred text, served as a physician to her community, wrote the oldest surviving musical morality play, and produced plainchants of great expression and beauty. She was canonized in 2012.

As we remember our War of Independence from Great Britain, you might be surprised to know that Americans deployed a surprising secret weapon—music. WRTI's Debra Lew Harder has more.

Jessica Griffin


On Tuesday, June 20th, Allison Vulgamore announced she will be stepping down as President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra when her contract expires in December, 2017. WRTI’s Debra Lew Harder spoke with her the next day about her biggest achievements as well as the biggest challenges she faced during her tenure with the Orchestra, which began in 2010.

When the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned Jonathan Leshnoff to write a concerto for principal clarinetist Ricardo Morales, the composer realized a connection between the clarinet and...the Hebrew alphabet. WRTI's Debra Lew Harder explains.


In his early twenties, Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) won the title "Argentina's Great Musical Hope" with works such as the ballet score Estancia, and popular piano pieces like Danzas argentinas, which strongly evoke the rhythm and flair of the folk music of Argentina.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art; Bequest of Charles C. Willis, 1956

This week’s solar eclipse has a lot of people thinking about outer space. In his new composition, written for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Dirk Brossé uses the “space-y” sounds of an unusual instrument to depict an important encounter that took place on Earth -- not far from WRTI. 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The George W. Elkins Collection, 1924

If you love both visual art and music, tune in this Sunday, June 18th at 5 pm to hear the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia perform the world premiere of Music Director Dirk Brossé’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Each of the seven movements was inspired by a different American painting from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. WRTI’s Debra Lew Harder talked with Dirk Brossé, who also conducts the performance, about his piece. Here’s an edited excerpt from the interview.

“Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, ” “My Funny Valentine,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “The Sound of Music." With over 900 songs to his name, composer Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) left an indelible mark on American musical theater. His songs became an important part of the Great American Songbook, in part because jazz artists and singers loved to re-invent them. If Rodgers had had his way, though, he wouldn’t have let anyone else change a note. Why not?

Pages