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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Where Music Lives
6:03 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Where Music Lives: On, And At, WRTI

Jazz vocalist Joanna Pascale

Music lives on - and 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.

 


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Where Music Lives
6:02 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Where Music Lives: At Bunker Hill Presbyterian Church In Washington Township, NJ

Martha Frampton is president of Music at Bunker Hill, founded in 2008.

A concert series in southern New Jersey’s Washington Township attracts top-notch performers from the region, across the river, New York, and all around.  The Music at Bunker Hill concerts take place in a church built on a high point in Gloucester County. Starting with three concerts, the program has steadily grown.  Now in its fifth season, the Sunday series stands out as a breath of fresh air.  

The sanctuary of Bunker Hill Presbyterian Church is the venue for Music at Bunker Hill, and it's Where Music Lives. Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim will perform there on April 28th at 3 pm.


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Where Music Lives
5:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Where Music Lives: At Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro

Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro in Somers Point, NJ.

An annual Jazz@The Point Festival is a cornerstone for the Somers Point Jazz Society; but the nine-year-old organization also spreads jazz around southern New Jersey throughout the year. Lectures and student workshops regularly round out concerts and performances at local venues all around Somers Point. 

The Somers Point Jazz Society has helped put on a Tuesday night jazz series at Sandi Point Coastal Bistro for the last two years. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston stopped in recently on a show that featured Melanie Rice - vocals, Dean Schneider – piano,  accompanied by Tim Lekan – bass, and Bob Shomo – drums.


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Creatively Speaking
8:00 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

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

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.

Creatively Speaking
8:48 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

All About Jennifer Higdon: A Classical Composer For Philadelphia And Beyond

Composer Jennifer Higdon with Beau.

This month, WRTI is showcasing the works of various women composers. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston looks at a Philadelphia favorite: Jennifer Higdon.

Philadelphia’s Jennifer Higdon is among the most frequently performed living American composers. Now 50, the successful, unpretentious, and endlessly creative Higdon is adding an opera to her extensive repertoire. It’s a joint commission of The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia based on Charles Frazier’s Civil War novel Cold Mountain. Higdon’s family moved from Atlanta to east Tennessee when she was an adolescent– about 40 miles, she says, as the crow flies from Cold Mountain. That geographic proximity fueled her insight into the characters she’s recasting in operatic form.

Higdon’s partner, Cheryl Lawson, runs Lawdon Press, the company that publishes and distributes Higdon’s works.  Among her most-performed compositions is blue cathedral, a tone poem she wrote after the death, from cancer, of her brother Andrew Blue Higdon. Her works have been recorded on dozens of CDs and performed around the world.  


Where Music Lives
6:02 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Where Music Lives: At the Collingswood Senior Community Center in Camden County

Sax player Bob Pollitt

Music lives in South Jersey, where WRTI's Meridee Duddleston finds jazz creating connections in the neighborhood. The “Jazz Bridge" project deepens the region’s rich jazz roots with a series of neighborhood concerts featuring the area’s great jazz musicians. At the same time, the concerts enable the non-profit Jazz Bridge to provide emergency financial support to local jazz musicians in crisis. It’s a win-win. 

The concerts, at five sites in the Philadelphia area, tackle an all-too-common problem for jazz musicians and bring live jazz to close to home.

Meridee Duddleston attended a "First Thursday"concert at the Collingswood Senior Community Center to see how it works. The evening featured the distinguished Bob Pollitt Jazz Quartet: Bob Pollitt on saxophone, Henry Miller on drums, Craig Thomas on bass. and Bill Schilling on piano.  


Creatively Speaking
6:38 am
Fri March 8, 2013

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

Edna at the harp
Emil Rhodes, Family Collection


A new biography reveals what it was like to be the first woman to enter the all-male sanctum of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930. 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. 




Where Music Lives
9:28 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Where Music Lives: At LaRose Jazz Club and Wherever You Find Tony Williams

Music lives at LaRose Jazz Club in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. That's where sax player and local jazz legend Tony Williams has a steady Monday night gig. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston spends time with Tony Williams - now in his 80s - and finds out how this mainstay of the Philadelphia jazz scene keeps it fresh today and pursues his vision for tomorrow.

An educator, musician and mentor, Williams has been part of the jazz scene in Philadelphia and beyond for decades. His passion for jazz comes through as he blows on the saxophone in his Mount Airy home. Williams' humble altruism has also spilled out into the neighborhood. In the late 1970s, he spearheaded the formation of a number of teen jazz bands, including “Pieces of a Dream,” and the “Stenton Diner Teenage Jazz Band,” made up of teenagers from Germantown and Mount Airy.  And for over 35 years his Mount Airy Cultural Center has built a bridge to the next generation  - through jazz.

Let us know Where Music Lives in your community! Add your ideas in the comments section here and check out our other Where Music Lives posts.

Creatively Speaking
3:16 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Listening To Water Music In Winter

This week, in 1722, an audience at London’s Stationers’ Hall first heard the now-famous Baroque suite commissioned for a king’s ceremonial boat ride on the River Thames. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston listens to Handel’s Water Music...in winter.

Born in Germany, George Frideric Handel moved to Britain as a young man and spent his most productive years there. He enjoyed the favor of the German-born King George I, and became a naturalized British subject in his early 40s. Handel's Water Music stands alongside his Messiah and Music for the Royal Fireworks as the best-known works of a composer who went from operas to oratorios.

DUDDLESTON: Music is a living thing. Along with a conductor’s interpretation, the performance of a composition reflects the sensibilities of the times.  A work can also grow in influence far beyond what it enjoyed during a composer’s lifetime. Water Music, so associated with George Frideric Handel, probably wasn’t an 18th-century blockbuster.

ZOHN: It would have been regarded at the time as kind of a relatively minor, obscure work by Handel. Nothing like it is today, where it’s one of Handel’s big hits.

DUDDLESTON: Temple University Music History Professor Steven Zohn, an expert on Baroque music, says King George I liked the hour-long work so well that he had the musicians play it three times. But five years later, when it was performed inside, no program survived; whether the audience heard all or just parts remains murky.

ZOHN: There was no full score for a long time. And, probably, Handel just kind of kept it close to his vest, you know, not wanting to let it out –because perhaps he had other ideas of how it could be used.

DUDDLESTON:  Later, during Handel’s lifetime, the 22 movements in the original single sequence were grouped together by key and instrumentation. And today, parts have played a role in television, movies, and advertisements. But Zohn says an undated score discovered in London in 2004 reinforces that Handel first conceived the work as a single composition to accompany one long, languorous cruise down the river.

  Information about Professor Steven Zohn's lecture at Princeton University.

Creatively Speaking
6:01 am
Mon February 11, 2013

One Book, One Philadelphia 2013 Continues: The Buddha in the Attic

Author Julie Otsuka

This year's "One Book, One Philadelphia" choice gives voice to an American history story that's not widely known. The author of this year’s Free Library of Philadelphia selection spoke with WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston about her novel - The Buddha in the Attic.

Through mid-March the Free Library brings readers together to create new connections and understanding through literature. Author Julie Otsuka says she's not prescriptive about what readers take away from her short novel. Read it and decide for yourself.  

DUDDLESTON:  Author Julie Otsuka tells the story of first generation Japanese-American women who crossed the Pacific in the early 1900s as new wives of men known to them only through pictures and letters.   She depicts their steely bravery and how they come to grips with a reality that's a world away from what they expect.

OTSUKA:  I’m just, I’m kind of interested in fate.  You’re just assigned a mate pretty much at random and you have to make it work with that man.  There was no going back for these young girls because they were too poor to afford the ship passage back home.

DUDDLESTON:  The narrative is set against the backdrop of anti-Japanese prejudice  that led to the government-run internment camps during WWII.   The style, Otsuka says, is rhythmic - like the music of composer Steve Reich -  compulsive, propulsive with a hypnotic beat.

MUSIC:  Steve Reich’s Vermont Counterpoint

OTSUKA:  I kind of feel like that's something that I'm aspiring to do with language. I mean I feel like there’s this secret underground rhythmic grid that holds the story together that has nothing to plot or with character, but it just has to do with the sound of the language and where the accents fall literally on the words.   Just the sound of words and language.

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