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.

Jill can be heard weekdays from 2 to 6 pm, and on Crossover on Saturdays from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. 

Ways To Connect

At Crossover, we're lucky that so many great guests are willing to return to speak with us - and you! Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglić is one of them.

It's funny. Just when you think you know someone inside out and upside-down, you're hit with the realization that you really only know half the story. That's Jose Serebrier. The 76-year-old, Uruguayan-born Serebrier is one of the best-known and most-frequently recorded conductors of his generation. But, did you know he is also quite a prolific and accomplished composer? He is. So much so that he considers himself not a conductor who also composes, but a composer who also conducts.

When Michael Stairs sits at the organ console, the result is nothing but perfection. He is indeed the organist's organist. Stairs has been organist for The Philadelphia Orchestra since his appointment by Riccardo Muti in 1985. He taught at the Haverford School for 25 years and was beloved by his students. A graduate of Westminster Choir College, he also holds an Artist's Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music.

The spectacular pianist Aldo Ciccolini passed away on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at age 89. Ciccolini was on the "Crossover Bucket List" of prospective guests for a very long time. And we’re not only saddened by his death, but also that we were never able to speak with him. But we do have the music and wonderful performances of this great pianist.

One of our favorite guests - and one of yours, as you've told us - returns to Crossover this week. Violinist Nicola Benedetti discusses her CD, Homecoming: A Scottish Fantasy. (This is a re-broadcast from September, 2014.)

This week's Crossover guest is one of the most well-known pianists in classical music - Emanuel Ax.  Mr. Ax is a multiple Grammy winner in both solo and chamber performances, and has enjoyed a career that has spanned over four decades.

Emanuel Ax was born in Lviv in western Ukraine in the summer of 1948, and raised in Poland.  His first piano teacher was his father, who started him on the keyboard at age 6.  At 7, he started official studies at the Miodowa School in Warsaw, eventually winding up in Winnipeg, in Manitoba, Canada when the family moved there two years later.  There he studied piano in school, and as a member of the Junior Music Club of Winnipeg.

In 1961, the family moved once again to New York City, where Mr. Ax began studies at Juilliard under Mieczyslaw Munz, eventually winning the Young Artists Award in 1973.  He came to prominence in 1974, after winning the first Arthur Rubenstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv.  He followed that in 1975 with the Michaels Award for Young Artists, and the Avery Fisher Prize in 1979.  From there, he has embarked on a career that has taken him around the world, performing solo, and with some of the most prominent chamber ensembles and orchestras in classical music.

Since 1973, Mr. Ax has been Yo-Yo Ma's main duo recital partner.  He also formed a quartet with Ma, Jaime Laredo and Issac Stern, releasing several CD's for Sony/CBS before Stern's death in 2001 adjourned the ensemble.

Emanuel Ax's latest CD is called, "Variations: Haydn, Beethoven and Schumann," on the Sony Classics label.  The pianist points out that each of these sets of Variations is unusual, “each revolutionary in its own way.” He has also discovered that they go very well together in a concert program. Now, surely to the worldwide delight of fans of virtuoso classical piano performance, he presents them together on a recording as well.  In the world of the pianist, says Mr. Ax, “we’re so centered on the sonata style. What’s nice sometimes is to look at other ways to deal with structure, other ways to deal with expression, other ways to deal with forming your thoughts.” 

Listen for Jill's conversation with pianist Emanuel Ax, and music from his CD, "Variations: Haydn, Beethoven and Schumann," on Crossover, Saturday morning at 11:30 am on WRTI-FM, with an encore the following Friday evening at 7 pm on HD-2 and the All-Classical web stream at wrti.org.

Two returning guests are featured on Crossover this week. Maestro Valentin Radu of the Philadelphia musical performance organization Vox Ama Deus is with us, as is the stellar British pianist Peter Donohoe.

Soprano Diana Damrau usually sticks with her forte of mainstream opera. Indeed, she's made her name in such demanding roles as Mozart's Queen of the Night, Strauss' Zerbinetta, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Verdi's Violetta. But not long ago, she had this itch that needed scratching. And scratch she did, to excellent result.

Every so often, we like to check in with artists who've appeared on Crossover in the past to find out what they're up to. This week's returning guest is Anna Bergman, cabaret singer, concert artist, chanteuse.  

Listening to Ms. Bergman is an exercise in sophistication. From Francis Poulenc to Carole King, and everything in between, she performs opera, operetta and the so-called Great American Songbook, thrilling audiences worldwide with every bit of it.

First they were students at AVA. During their studies, they were companions. Eventually they performed together on stage.  Then came love, and later, the altar. All because of opera. And we can say, "We knew them when."

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