Susan Lewis

Arts & Culture Reporter

Susan is an arts and culture reporter for WRTI. She contributes Arts Desk features, and weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast series on WRTI with host Gregg Whiteside.

She is also a freelance essayist, journalist, and speechwriter who has written about Philadelphia for Insight Guides and Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation's Culture Files.  A former columnist for Philadelphia Magazine, she is the author of Reinventing Ourselves after Motherhood and a book of essays. Her work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Child Magazine, Parents Magazine, Reader's Digest and Ladies' Home Journal (Parents Digest).

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Susan is also a lawyer, with a B.A. in Philosophy from Trinity College, Connecticut, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. She has practiced law in New York City and taught entertainment law at Rutgers Law School in Camden.

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WRTI Arts Desk
8:46 am
Mon April 27, 2015

The Intersection of Jazz and 'The Great American Songbook'

Richard Rodgers (left) with Lorenz Hart in 1936

The songs, or standards, known to us today as "The Great American Songbook" flourished from the mid 1920s to about 1950. Singer Carmen McRae popularized the term with her 1972 album, The Great American Songbook. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a new book on the subject shines light on the role of jazz in the rise, fall, and rebirth of these great American songs.

Radio script:

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WRTI Arts Desk
6:07 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Duke Ellington: The Influential, Elegant Genius

Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Duke Ellington wrote and performed hundreds of musical works, and changed the way people thought about jazz. And, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, his contributions went beyond the music.

Terry Teachout's Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington is published by Gotham Books.

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WRTI Arts Desk
3:33 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Alban Berg's Violin Concerto Laments a Young Girl's Life Cut Short

Composer Alban Berg (1885-1935)

Twentieth-century Austrian composer Alban Berg dedicated his Violin Concerto to the memory of the 18-year-old daughter of a friend. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the work evokes emotion not typically associated with the 12-tone style.

Gil Shaham performs Berg's Violin Concerto on The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI, Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 1 pm.

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WRTI Arts Desk
5:26 pm
Sat April 18, 2015

Crash! Ting! Boom! Gong! Those Colorful Percussion Sounds

Angela Zater Nelson

The word percussion comes from the Latin word percussionem, meaning 'to strike.'  But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, playing percussion in a symphony orchestra also requires rhythm, musicality, and physical grace.

Percussion instruments can keep the beat, but they also add color. Angela Zator Nelson is The Philadelphia Orchestra’s associate principal timpani and a member of the percussion section.

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WRTI Arts Desk
11:44 am
Thu April 16, 2015

All About Stéphane Denève

Stéphane Denève at the Kimmel Center

The Philadelphia Orchestra's Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève spoke with WRTI’s Susan Lewis last year about his three-year appointment with the Orchestra - "a dream come true," he says.

Stephane Deneve discusses Peter and the Wolf:

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WRTI Arts Desk
12:10 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

The Genius of Coltrane: Player and Composer

John Coltrane (1926-1967)

Born in North Carolina in 1926, saxophone player and composer John Coltrane spent over a decade in Philadelphia and then moved to New York. WRTI's Susan Lewis considers the impact of Coltrane, who expanded the boundaries of jazz with a wide range of styles. 

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WRTI Arts Desk
9:00 am
Mon April 6, 2015

What Is It Like to Lead the Orchestra Without a Conductor?

David Kim is concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Today, a symphony orchestra is most often - but not always - led by a conductor.  As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, in some cases, the concertmaster may lead the group – but not from the conductor’s podium.

Radio Script:

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WRTI Arts Desk
6:07 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Remembering The Sensational Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) - Nicknamed "Lady Day" by saxophonist Lester Young

Jazz great Billie Holiday, who died at age 44 in 1959, would have turned 100 on April 7, 2015. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, in her short career, this Philadelphia-born singer made a huge impact on jazz and American song.

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WRTI Arts Desk
12:52 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Bach@7: Musical Gems By The Baroque Master Performed In Center City

Bach@7 concerts coming up: April 8th and May 13th at St. Clement's Church in Center City

J.S. Bach’s masterpieces, well-known to many listeners, include his Mass in B minor, the Goldberg Variations, and The Well-Tempered Clavier. However, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the Baroque composer also wrote hundreds of lesser-known, short, vocal works with instrumental accompaniment, which are now the focus of a Philadelphia Bach Cantata series, called "Bach@ 7." The series features informal, one-hour long, pay-as-you-wish live concerts played on period instruments - modeled after similar series in Europe and New York.

The next "Bach@7" concert: Wednesday, April 8th at St. Clement's Church, 20th and Cherry streets.
 

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WRTI Arts Desk
9:49 am
Mon March 30, 2015

The Monumental St. Matthew Passion: Bach in Philadelphia

J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is a monumental oratorio that fell into obscurity for decades after Bach's death in 1750. Composer Felix Mendelssohn's production of the work in 1829 helped spark the modern Bach revival. Susan Lewis considers Bach’s life and work.

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