Meridee Duddleston

News Reporter, Arts & Culture Reporter

Meridee began reporting in the newsroom at WRTI in 2003 while working toward a master's degree in journalism at Temple University.  Since that time, her duties have expanded to news anchor and contributor to WRTI's arts and culture series, Creatively Speaking.

A graduate of Hamline University School of Law, Meridee grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and practiced law before making a major leap into the world of journalism. She also holds a graduate degree from New York University School of Law and received a B.A in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In 2011, Meridee was recognized for outstanding public affairs reporting by the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcaster's Association (PAPBA) with awards for two News & Views stories. She received 1st place for "Baby Boomers Becoming Seniors: A Growing Population in Philadelphia," and 2nd place for "TUNE UP PHILLY: Classical Music Instruction as a Vehicle for Social Change."

Meridee can be heard weekday mornings between 6 and 10 am.

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Creatively Speaking
6:36 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Appalachian Spring Eternal: The Story Behind "Ballet for Martha"

Erick Hawkins in the first production of Appalachian Spring, 1944. In the background, left to right: the four Followers, Martha Graham, May O'Donnell
Library of Congress

In the midst of World War II, a collaboration between choreographer Martha Graham and composer Aaron Copland gave birth to an enduring American classic. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston hears Appalachian Spring in a new way.

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Where Music Lives
9:47 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Music Lives And Evolves At The Philharmonic Of Southern New Jersey

Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey's Music Director Matthew Oberstein

In Voorhees, NJ, where a new music director forges a bond with an accomplished volunteer orchestra, classical music lives and grows. As the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey begins its new season, an evolutionary process is underway. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston reports.

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Creatively Speaking
12:58 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Jazz Is...Charlie Rice

Jazz drummer Charlie Rice

Steady work is a coveted and rare prize among many jazz musicians. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston visits a force in the local jazz scene who never had a problem getting gigs. Recognized by Mayor Michael Nutter for his enduring contribution to the city’s jazz scene,  jazz drummer Charlie Rice has been keeping the beat for more than 70 years and counting.

Information about Jazz Bridge concerts at Collingswood Community Center

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Creatively Speaking
8:54 pm
Sun October 6, 2013

The Business Behind The Music

In the early 1900s, royalties from sales of sheet music produced a steady source of income to composers and music publishers. But radio changed all that. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston sat down with a legal expert to learn how.

It was one thing to sit at a piano in a parlor and play a Stephan Foster tune from sheet music propped up on a music stand.  But a broadcast of music over the airwaves was a different thing entirely!  The advent of radio as a tool for entertainment set the music industry on its heels and brought about new interpretations of copyright law, just as the digital age has done. 

Listen to more of Meridee's interview with intellectual property lawyer, Gary Rosen.

MERIDEE DUDDLESTON: Collecting royalties from sales of sheet music could be controlled. But intellectual property lawyer Gary Rosen says making music available to everyone over the airwaves for free was as disruptive to the music industry as the Internet has been.  Back in the early 1900s, composers saw radio broadcasts as a threat to their creativity and livelihoods - a threat, Rosen emphasizes, that copyright law was designed to prevent.

GARY ROSEN:  Copyright is given, not as a gift to composers, but it’s meant to benefit the public by spurring creativity.

MUSIC: John Philip Sousa's The Washington Post
 
DUDDLESTON:  The music industry and popular composers like John Philip Sousa concluded that a radio broadcast was a public performance of their copyrighted works. They demanded that the radio industry begin to pay royalties. And they banded together to enforce their rights in a way that avoided a logistical nightmare.

ROSEN:  Their solution was to form this performing rights organization in which they pool their copyrights and then licensed them on what’s called a blanket basis.

DUDDLESTON: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) was the first blanket licensing organization.  Rosen says blanket copyright licenses for radio have worked the way they were intended.

ROSEN: And the fact that a mechanism was formed to actually enforce that performance right and create an income stream for composers has had a tremendous impact on the quality and variety of American music – popular, jazz, classical.

Gary A. Rosen is the author of Unfair to Genius: The Strange and Litigious Career of Ira B. Arnstein

Creatively Speaking
12:46 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

The Musical Treasure Trove At The Library Of Congress

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) at work in his apartment in NYC in 1947.
Photographic proof by Victor Kraft Library of Congress

A manuscript of a J.S. Bach cantata casts a new light on how Bach intended the piece to be played. A singer gains insight from a line in a Porgy and Bess manuscript that differs from the final lyrics. The Music Division of the massive Library of Congress in Washington, DC,  is a place where performers, composers, scholars and the general public make discoveries of the musical kind.

Case in point: in a series of letters written in 1957 to his wife Felicia, while she was visiting her family in Santiago, Chile, Leonard Bernstein faithfully chronicles the progress of West Side Story during the final weeks of rehearsal through the show’s out-of-town opening in Washington, D.C.  The letters reveal Bernstein’s changing emotions about the show from frustration and agony to his final state of euphoria.  In addition to comments about West Side Story, Bernstein writes about signing his contract as conductor with the New York Philharmonic, his upcoming thirty-ninth birthday, and how much he misses Felicia and their children, Jamie and Alexander. Read the letters here.

The Special Collections of the Music Division are truly fascinating and constitute a resource for musical scholarship that is unmatched anywhere in the world. These unique bodies of materials are extraordinarily vast and diverse, yet very much interrelated. They include some of the greatest treasures of the Music Division and the Library of Congress.

Excerpts of Meridee Duddleston’s interview with Senior Music Specialist Raymond White and Music Division Director Susan Vita.

Where Music Lives
6:00 am
Mon September 9, 2013

That Charming Violin Shop Off Rittenhouse Square

Music lives in a quaint, historic building on Philadelphia’s Locust Street, just a few doors down from the Curtis Institute of Music, where David Michie restores and sells violins and bows, drawing virtuoso musicians from far and wide. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston paid a visit to this master craftsman.

Master violin restorer and dealer David Michie recounts how renowned French archetier (the French term for bow maker) Eugene Sartory policed the market for counterfeits of his work. Michie also provides some advice on choosing a bow in these excerpts of an interview with Meridee Duddleston.

Michie has much to say about the importance of a high-quality bow. "What the Italians were to string instruments, the French were to bows," he explains. In the 1800s, large blocks of wood from the pernambuco tree were used as ballast in ships making their way from Brazil to France.  And Francois Tourte, who developed the modern bow and is considered the “Stradavarius of bow makers,” took to the wood and started using it. Pernambuco is now an endangered species whose export is restricted. Although carbon fiber and other substitutes are now in the mix, Michie says nothing beats a bow made of pernambuco wood from Brazil. Here's the website for David Michie Violins.

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Creatively Speaking
4:13 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Can You Hear Us Now? The Reverb Really Makes A Difference

Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center

Lovers of classical music and jazz, musicians and composers, are acutely tuned in to the acoustics of a performance space. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston looks at the acoustical demands of a concert hall.

Large performance spaces need to provide enjoyable listening experiences across many musical genres and forms of entertainment. That’s why varying the acoustics of a given environment is a threshold issue that makes a big difference.  Acoustical engineer and inventor Niels Adelman-Larsen has developed a new variable acoustic system for concert halls that relies on inflatable sound absorbers.

Excerpts of Meridee Duddleston’s interview with Niels Adelman-Larsen about his background, concert hall acoustics, and some sound basics.

Creatively Speaking
6:32 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Harpist Edna Phillips And The Philadelphia Orchestra: One Woman In A Hundred

Photo inscribed for Edna's student, Carolyn Nicosia. It reads: To Carolyn with affectionate good wishes for her good future! Edna Phillips, 1951
Carolyn Nicosia

Meridee Duddleston looks at the life and career of Philadelphia Orchestra harpist Edna Phillips (1907-2003).

A recently published biography reveals what it was like to be the first woman to enter the all-male sanctum of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1930s. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston discovered the powerful combination of talent and fear. 

On September 14, 1930, the headline of The Philadelphia Public Ledger read: "Solo Harpist to Be First Girl in Philadelphia Orchestra." A young Edna Phillips entered the single-sex fortress of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930 - a year after pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff called it "the finest orchestra the world has ever heard." She’d played the harp for only five years when she was hired as the first female member and principal harpist.  Her "musicalité" may have been obvious to the pioneering Leopold Stokowski, but was she ready? What was it like to be the only woman among men at a time when gender equality and workplace mores were far different from what they are today?

Author Mary Sue Welsh worked with the observant, warm, and funny Phillips on her story during Phillips’ lifetime, completing it after the first harpist’s death in 2003.  True to Phillips’ desire, it’s as much about the challenges and triumphs of her own life, as about how the Orchestra grew and responded to its conductors - particularly Leopold Stokowski.

Listen to excerpts from author Mary Sue Welsh's conversation with Meridee Duddleston.

Carolyn Nicosia studied with Edna Phillips in the early 1950s. [After hearing our feature on Edna Philips, Carolyn contacted Meridee and shared a personal remembrance and an inscribed photo.  Thank you, Carolyn Nicosia!]

How I became a student of Edna Phillips:

My mother’s mother (Maria Quintile Riccardi) migrated to the U.S. from a village in Italy that had produced many harpists.  Her brothers also came to the U.S. and took up their musical careers.  Joseph Quintile was harpist for the St. Louis Symphony and later for film studios in Hollywood.  Anthony Quintile was a bass player who played at various venues and also taught bass and solfeggio (he taught me when I was a child of 8 or 9).

My mother’s brothers almost all made their living as musicians, mostly bass players.  Rex Riccardi worked with Petrillo to found the Musicians’ Union.  

Of my cousins, several of the boys also became musicians, either piano or bass.  One, Frank Caster, was a student at Curtis, who became a member of the Washington Symphony and then the San Francisco Symphony.  Another became a restorer of violins in addition to playing bass.

When I was a child I started harp lessons at age 6 or 7.  My teacher at that time was Joseph Leonardo.  It was he who found a small-sized Lyon and Healy harp for me and made arrangements of music so that no key changes were required during playing because my feet could not reach the pedals.

Over the years I was on and off again with practicing.  Then, during one of his family visits East, Uncle Joe Quintile told my mother that I should try again to take up the harp seriously, and it was he who contacted Edna Phillips and asked her to take me as a pupil.  I was about 14 or 15 years old.

As a student of Edna Phillips:

Edna Phillips came to our house to see my harp and meet my family.  She agreed to take me as a student.  Since we had little money and even her “professional courtesy” charge per hour was beyond our means, Miss Phillips agreed to take me for a half hour at her house on Sundays.

I traveled by trolley and 2 buses to her home near what was formerly The Textile Institute.  It seemed to me to be a very large and impressive house, but she was very kind to me when I went for lessons.

I remember Miss Phillips telling me stories about Carlos Salzedo of Curtis - his method of playing harp and his design of a new harp made by Lyon and Healy.  Miss Phillips later had one of the Salzedo harps.

One aspect of the Salzedo method was the way the arms were to be held, to give more strength.  Miss Phillips said that she was once playing for a great conductor (probably Stokowski) who felt that the new method wasn’t allowing her tone to be loud enough.  So she fooled him, playing exactly the same way in two instances, but in one of them she threw up her hands after the passage, to the great approval of the conductor who said she had given him just what he wanted.  

Once I was invited to stay for lunch and I met Mr. Rosenbaum and their two children.  It was all new and grand to me.  I remember the setting very well.

Another time the weather had become cold so Miss Phillips lent me a sweater to wear on my long journey back home.  I had never felt anything so soft!  I learned later that it was cashmere.

It wasn’t long before Miss Phillips realized that I wasn’t really a musician.  Knowing our limited finances, she suggested to my mother that I transfer to one of the students of harp at Curtis, Nanette Norton.  She told me wonderful stories about what they were learning from Salzedo.

However, as I mentioned above, I really didn’t have the talent.  It seems that the musical ability in our family has passed from generation to generation only to the males.  We females can sing well enough to join choirs or take music lessons on various instruments, but none of us are professional musicians.  So I gave up my studies.  I kept the harp for many years until finally I sold it.

-Carolyn Nicosia
 

Where Music Lives
6:21 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Where Music Lives: At WRTI!

Jazz vocalist Joanna Pascale

Music lives at WRTI, where throughout 2013 we're celebrating our 60th anniversary. "The Diamond Sessions” - a series of classical and jazz performances, recorded live before audiences at the WRTI studios, are just a part of these celebrations. The first session featured jazz vocalist Joanna Pascale who told WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston that, for her, it all starts with the lyrics.

Joanna Pascale also teaches vocals in the jazz program at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. In this excerpt, Pascale shares her insight on breaking down the lyrics to create meaning, as well as her favorite lyricists and writing on her own.

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Creatively Speaking
7:30 am
Mon August 12, 2013

At Classical Concerts: A Whole Lot Of Coughing Going On!

Why do people cough during classical music concerts?  Is it a physical reflex or is there something else going on? WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston takes a look at some recent research

Hiccups and sneezes are not a standard accompaniment to a performance of classical music. But when was the last time a live performance was free of coughing? At a classical music concert, rules of etiquette demand silent immersion in the music - no cell phones or texting of course, no talking, and a limited array of acceptable responses to the performance.

Economics Professor Andreas Wagener, who specializes in social policy at Leibniz University of Hannover in Hannover, Germany, reviews the research and outlines six motives for why there’s more than the usual amount of coughing during classical concerts.

Professor Wagener is the author of Why Do People (Not) Cough in Concerts? The Economics of Concert Etiquette - published by the Association for Cultural Economics International.

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