Meridee Duddleston

News Reporter, Arts Desk 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 morning news anchor and contributor of weekly Arts Desk features.

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.

Ways to Connect

After being featured on NPR's All Things Considered, Chad Lawson's CD, The Chopin Variations, shot to No. 1 on iTunes Classical before it was even released in September, 2014. Lawson's interpretation of Chopin's nocturnes, preludes, and waltzes involves a surprising reconfiguration of the piano, and offers a sense of intimacy with the music that is likely new to most listeners.

WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston learns about the power of simplicity in her conversation with pianist Chad Lawson.

Herman DeJong is an architect who came to Philadelphia from Holland in the mid 1960s. He played the bass and started connecting with local jazz enthusiasts. He wanted to find a place to invite them to jam. 

Eventually, in April 1990, the Tuesday night sessions began at the 23rd Street Café, thanks to the owners. Over the years, locals and people from around the country and the world have stopped in.

Tap dancer Pam Hetherington says tap can be the visual representation of any kind of music. And jazz tap provides the opportunity for the dancer to reflect the emotions and story inspired by a live jazz combo. A choreographer and a teacher, she says she’s obsessed with tap’s percussive possibilities: hard-driving, soft and sweet, and in between.

Alex Ibanez

Last January, Delaware Governor Jack Markell welcomed Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to the Port of Wilmington, a major entry point for fresh fruit from Chile. Bachelet's focus on trade also included a night at a sold-out dinner organized by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and its Chilean-American counterpart.   

Between the two stops, President Bachelet took a detour from the economic agenda, stopping at the Curtis Institute of Music. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston was there.  

Radio Script:

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.

Curtis Institute of Music composition student TJ Cole is only 21, but she already has a string of impressive commissions under her belt. Last year she was chosen to write a piece of music based on the Free Library's 2015 One Book, One Philadelphia selection - Orphan Train, a novel by Christina Baker Kline.

It’s the story of 91-year-old Vivian, who lost her family as a child, and 17-year-old Molly, a foster child who also knows what it’s like to be alone and unwanted.  

Steven Krull Photography

WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston looks at the third Philadelphia Festival of Young Musicians that took place on Feb. 16, 2015 at the Kimmel Center. Gathered together were 250 student instrumentalists and vocalists, from over 13 organizations in Philadelphia, who studied in sections during an intensive day of learning and socializing. The day ended with a grand performance on the Verizon Hall stage. Lio Kuokman, assistant conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, led the instruments. Melissa Malvar-Keylock, associate conductor of the Princeton Girlchoir, led the singers.

In 1944 big dance bands were all the rage. They were so popular that to gain additional revenue for World War II, the federal government enforced a 30 percent "cabaret tax" on the gross receipts of any "public place where music and dancing privileges... except instrumental or mechanical music alone, are afforded the patrons in connection with the serving or selling of food, refreshment, or merchandise."

In a quaint, historic building on Philadelphia’s Locust Street, just a few doors down from the Curtis Institute of Music, 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.

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.

Vocalist Justine Keeys, aka Miss Justine, is one of Philadelphia’s jazz gems. Starting in the early '80s, she enthralled audiences at clubs and private venues across the Philadelphia area with the late pianist Gerald Price. Their long collaboration taught her the importance of finding the right musical fit. Miss Justine fills in WRTI's Meridee Duddleston about her life in music.
 

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