Susan Lewis

Arts & Culture Reporter

Susan is an arts and culture reporter for WRTI. She contributes weekly features to Creatively Speaking with Jim Cotter, produces arts news, and works as a news anchor.

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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Creatively Speaking
6:02 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Curtis Grads Giving a Year of Service to the Philadelphia Community

The Bok Trio in a very open rehearsal at a Curtis open house. A very open rehearsal is a format that teaching artists use to let audiences into the rehearsal process. The artists use reactions from the audience to inform their interpretation of the piece.

The Franklin Project is a new, national initiative aiming to set up a year of service as a rite of passage for America’s young adults in a variety of fields. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the Curtis Institute of Music joined the initiative with the launching of the first ArtistYear Fellowship Program, a pilot program with three recent graduates who dedicate a year of service to the Greater Philadelphia community - with the goal of becoming professional artist citizens.

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Creatively Speaking
6:10 am
Mon December 8, 2014

The Obsessive Love That Fueled Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique

Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)

A symphonic self portrait that premiered in 1830 has become one of the most-performed works in the orchestral repertoire. WRTI’s Susan Lewis discusses this epitome of romantic program music with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

Explore an interactive feature about the Berlioz's work here.

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Creatively Speaking
4:36 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

That Hypnotic Music from the Film, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Opening shot from the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, made famous by Richard Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra," composed in 1896.

Think of the rising of the sun...for the first time ever. Russian Conductor Vladimir Jurowski says it's an ingenious beginning to the tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra by German composer Richard Strauss, based on philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's novel of the same name. 

Music from the popular symphonic piece played a memorable role in the 1968 Hollywood film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, those famous opening bars are only the beginning of a work that continues to engage and intrigue audiences.

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Creatively Speaking
6:30 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Have You Read Terry Teachout's Duke Ellington Biography?

DUKE, A Life of Duke Ellington, by Terry Teachout, has received a lot of praise by critics. It's now out in paperback.

Duke Ellington played piano, but it was his intertwined roles as bandleader and composer that propelled him to greatness. He wrote over 1,700 songs, as well as longer orchestral suites and film scores.  As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a recently published biography by Wall Street Journal drama critic and blogger Terry Teachout - now available in paperback - explores the man behind the music.

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Creatively Speaking
11:08 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Who Needs an Audience? Not the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia

Members of the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia play together for the love of music.

There’s an orchestra in Philadelphia that plays music weekly with professional musicians and talented amateurs. But, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia - now celebrating 50 years - rarely, if ever, has an audience. 

WRTI’s Jack Moore has been principal conductor since 1997. The many guests who have led the group include musicians and assistant conductors from The Philadelphia Orchestra. Soloists have included Leila Josefowicz and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

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Creatively Speaking
8:05 am
Mon November 24, 2014

How Often Do You Hear a Mass in Old Church Slavonic?

Leos Janecek, composer of the Glagolitic Mass, was not known to be religious, but he was an advocate for the Slavic people, language and culture.

Moravian composer Leos Janacek, who died in 1928 at the age of 74, wrote many of his most highly regarded works in the last dozen years of his life. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, his monumental Mass is striking in its structure, size, rhythms, and tone, not to mention its use of an ancient text.

Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey join The Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass on Sunday, November 30, 2014 on WRTI.

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Creatively Speaking
3:14 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Once Disdained, Now Acclaimed: Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 1

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Although Russian pianist, composer and conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff became an international star, his first symphony was considered a failure when it premiered in 1897, and was not performed again during the composer’s lifetime. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, today it’s regarded much differently. 

On Sunday Nov 23, 2014, on WRTI,  the Philadelphia Orchestra performs Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 1. 

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Creatively Speaking
2:45 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

The Artist Who Launched Albert Barnes' Collection With A Trip To Paris and $20,000

William Glackens. Cape Cod Pier, 1908. Oil on canvas, 26 x 32 in. (66 x 81.3 cm). Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Nova Southeastern University; Gift of an Anonymous Donor

Among those who have shaped Philadelphia’s cultural landscape is someone who not only created his own art, but also influenced the development of the now-renowned Barnes collection in the early 20th century. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on realist painter and Barnes confidant William Glackens (1870-1938).

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Creatively Speaking
3:57 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Yannick Shares The Hidden Meaning in Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony

Richard Strauss finished composing AN ALPINE SYMPHONY in 1915. It's scored for an enormous orchestra with 16 horns, two timpani, organ, and multiple percussion, including thunder and wind machines.

Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony is, on one level, a musical description of nature. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the accessible music belies a greater meaning.

Based on a boyhood experience getting caught in a storm hiking in the Alps, the idea for An Alpine Symphony germinated for years in Strauss’s mind.  It wasn’t until after Gustav Mahler died, that he determined to finish the work, which he regarded as a tribute to his fellow composer.

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Creatively Speaking
11:53 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Music Sowing Seeds of Cross-Cultural Understanding

Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble

The arts can encourage positive cultural identity and promote cross-cultural understanding. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, that’s the premise of the Philadelphia-based organization Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, open to people of all backgrounds and presenting and teaching Arab language, art, and music, which can vary among the 22 countries in the Arab world.

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