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

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.

For over 35 years, Williams' Mount Airy Cultural Center has built a bridge to the next generation - through jazz. The 2013 Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival is scheduled for Friday August 30th to Monday September 2nd.

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.

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.

What does it take to make a chorus come together?  The pressure of an impending performance?  The skill and sensibility of a conductor? The intrinsic beauty of the music? WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston stopped by the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill for a rehearsal of the Greater South Jersey Chorus as it strives for perfection.

This Saturday evening, May 18th at 8 pm, The Greater South Jersey Chorus performs Spotlight, a program of choruses and songs from opera, stage, and screen. The concert will be performed at The Roman Catholic Church of St. Isaac Jogues in Marlton.  More information about the concert.

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.


 

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.

 


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.


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.


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.

Candace diCarlo

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.  


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.  


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. 

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