Joe Patti

Classical Host

It's his parents' fault. For Joe's sixth birthday, they gave him a transistor radio. All of a sudden, their dreams of having a doctor or lawyer (or even a fry cook) in the family went down the tubes.

For more than three decades, Joe has been defiantly disappointing his parents, to the benefit of radio listeners across the tri-state area. From Trenton to the Jersey shore, and from Philly to Wilmington, he's been programming, producing, and performing in almost every radio format, even winning an award or two along the way.

After having worked with such Philadelphia stars as Hy Lit, Sally Starr, and Johnny "Green Grocer" Lerro during his career, and having made some major noise as the operations and programming head for a South Jersey AM/FM combo, Joe thought it was time for a new challenge. Almost simultaneously, the opportunity to work as production manager at WRTI arrived. "Divine intervention," he says.

Joe is WRTI's production manager as well as a substitute classical host.

Ways to Connect

Piano Virtuoso Emanuel Ax on Crossover

Jan 23, 2015

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.

The Magic of Vox Ama Deus on Crossover

Jan 9, 2015

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.

Star Soprano Diana Damrau Scratches An Itch

Nov 26, 2014

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."

The 2014 Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, a signature program of Philadelphia's Gershman Y, runs November 1st through the 16th. The festival will showcase 17 films from eight countries, in seven different venues across the city.

Two of our favorite guests return to Crossover this week. In their own ways they create classical concert experiences...but they endeavor to take it further than that.

Manfred Honeck + Pittsburgh = No More Big Five

Oct 18, 2014

Once upon a time, in the world of classical music, there lived the "Big Five." The term was used to lump together the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and our own Philadelphia Orchestra as the finest performing orchestras in the U.S.

But, over time, as other orchestras gained stature, both in performance and finances, the term became passe and no longer indicative of the American orchestral scene.

Broadway On Walnut Street, With A Twist

Oct 10, 2014

Crossover takes its annual look at the Walnut Street Theatre's new season. Beginning its 206th season as the oldest theater company in the English-speaking world, the Walnut has always represented the best of Broadway in Philadelphia, but with a twist.

A museum tour is not something you'd think would translate well on radio...but it always winds up being an audience favorite on Crossover. It must be the theater-of-the-mind element of the broadcast. And the subject usually relates to theater and the performing arts.

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