Jill Pasternak

Classical Host

Jill joined WRTI in 1997 after working at the former WFLN for ten years. Her background is impressive: she's a professional harpist, a graduate of The Juilliard School of Music, and a former Fulbright Scholar.

As staff harpist at Radio City Music Hall, and with the City Center Ballet in New York, Jill performed with numerous symphonic and chamber ensembles in recordings, on radio, and on Broadway. She also worked for the Rockefeller Foundation developing the New World Records label, and was an assistant editor for Stereo Review magazine and Nonesuch Records. Her work as a writer and producer of training videos led Jill to earn a graduate degree in public media and also to start hosting at classical radio stations including WMHT-FM in Schenectady, N.Y., and WQXR in New York City.

Along with varied speaking engagements, Jill continues to "harp" on all things musical in the Delaware Valley.

*As of September 1, 2015, Jill retired from the airwaves. More information here.

Ways To Connect

This past May, pianist and conductor - and former music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra - Christoph Eschenbach was awarded the Ernst von Siemens prize for a lifetime in the service of music.

Just prior to receiving the prestigious and much-deserved accolade, Maestro Eschenbach turned 75, and decided that it was time to step down from his current post as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC.  He commented that after 30 years of directing orchestras, perhaps it was time for a break.

Tailor-made you may be asking?  Well, according to Strad Magazine, the Quartetto di Cremona is "...as sleek and elegant as an Armani suit.” And it's true. Every performer should have a tailor like that!

It's been said that when you hear the vocal group Anonymous 4 perform, you're listening to the music of angels or something that can't possibly come from our world. In a word, unearthly. Unfortunately, that sound won't be around much longer, as the group has decided to retire their angelic vocal cords with the 2015-2016 season.  

Returning guest, tenor Richard Troxell, can sing opera like no one's business.  Whether Rodolfo, Don Jose, Pinkerton, Romeo or Turiddu, he's a master.  Even at the ballpark singing the National Anthem, or just kidding around with Jimmy Fallon, his voice shines.  But jazz-pop?  

There's a whole world of music out there that, for the most part, goes in one ear and out the other. But if it weren't there, the world probably wouldn't sound as good. We're talking about "production music." Music used to create a mood or feeling without being the foreground element in a production.

The New York Times calls Alisa Weilerstein the "sovereign of the American cello," and continues, "it’s not technical brilliance that makes Alisa Weilerstein’s recording of Dvorak’s much-loved cello concerto special, though the young American cellist has it in spades. It’s the take-no-prisoners emotional investment that is evident in every bar, but never more so than in the heart-wrenching slow movement, where Ms. Weilerstein’s cello appears to take on human shape."

On this week's Crossover, we take to the stage to hear about the Philadelphia Theatre Company's new musical comedy, Murder for Two, running now through June 28 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Center City, Philadelphia.

With book and music by Joe Kinosian, book and lyrics by Kellen Blair, and direction by Scott Schwartz, the hilarious whodunit features a two-man cast, with one actor investigating the crime and the other playing all the suspects – and both playing the piano.

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.

Fran Kaufman

A complete musician. That's what the Canadian publication La Presse said about our good friend, pianist and concert artist Marc-Andre Hamelin. Here's the actual quote:

When traveling, some take the main routes - the safe, predictable, comforting roads. But others eschew the main routes, venturing off the beaten path. They're curious where the "roads less traveled" can lead them, and excited to share the discoveries most may not know about. This describes the Duo Gazzana, pathbeaters who say it's the trip that counts, not just the destination.