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
2:06 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

A Piano Concerto For Maxim

Shostakovich wrote his Piano Concerto No. 2 for his teenage son, Maxim, who premiered it at his graduation from the Moscow Conservatory in May, 1957.

Dmitri Shostakovich, known for many dramatic works composed in the shadow of Stalin, showed a different side - one filled with humor and family ties - in his Piano Concerto No. 2.

Listen to WRTI on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 1 pm as Kirill Gerstein performs Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

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Creatively Speaking
10:39 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Tan Dun: Building on Bela Bartok's Legacy

Chinese contemporary classical composer and conductor, Tan Dun

Hungarian pianist and composer Bela Bartok was born on March 25th in the year 1881. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, he is revered by a prominent contemporary composer who is building on Bartok’s legacy.

Tan Dun's Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women was premiered in the U.S. by The Philadelphia Orchestra this season, and broadcast on WRTI in December, 2013.

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WRTI Arts Desk
10:55 am
Tue March 17, 2015

That Contagious Bach Bug! Do You Have It?

J.S. Bach would turn 320 years old this month. And contemporary musicians continue to mine riches from his music. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, award-winning violinist Gil Shaham finds Bach connections in everything he plays.

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WRTI Arts Desk
3:30 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Rachmaninoff and The Philadelphians: A Musical Love Affair That Goes Back In Time

Composer/pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff and Eugene Ormandy during a rehearsal at the Academy of Music in 1938.
Adrian Siegel Collection/Philadelphia Orchestra Association Archives

It was 88 years ago - on March 18, 1927 - that The Philadelphia Orchestra played the first performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4 at the Academy of Music. The composer revised the concerto in 1928. And, in 1941, The Philadelphians premiered yet another revised version - the final one.

As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the strong bond between The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Russian composer, pianist, and conductor was forged through this and other works.

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WRTI Arts Desk
1:14 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Pictures at an Exhibition: The Evolution of a Masterpiece

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839-1881)

One popular work in the orchestral repertoire was written by a Russian composer and then orchestrated decades later by a Frenchman. As WRTI's Susan Lewis reports, this version had its first performance in October in Paris  in 1922. The music describes a stroll through the gallery - a promenade - with ten specific images brought to life.

Six of the drawings and watercolors that inspired Mussorgsky have survived.  The first performance of Pictures at an Exhibition as orchestrated by Ravel took place in Paris on October 19th in 1922.

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Creatively Speaking
1:06 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

A Coup in the Conducting World!

Simon Rattle is leaving the Berlin Philharmonic in 2017 to become music director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

There’s big news in the classical music world. The London Symphony Orchestra announced on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 that Simon Rattle will become its music director in September of 2017. Rattle, chief conductor and artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002, had previously announced that he would step down from that position when his contract expires in 2018.

Rattle’s relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra goes back to 1977, when he first appeared with the ensemble at the age of 22.  As its artistic leader, he’ll  succeed Valerie Gergiev who has been principal conductor since 2007. More information from the LSO's website.

WRTI's Susan Lewis has more on this much sought-after international conductor, who has a bond with our own Philadelphia Orchestra nurtured over the last 20 years.

WRTI Arts Desk
4:27 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

A Concerto That Explores The Limitless Range of The Piano

Pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin
Sim Canetty-Clarke

A contemporary concerto by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage explores the vast range of musical ideas a piano can express. WRTI’s Susan Lewis spoke with pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, the soloist who premiered it, and who performs it again on Sunday, March 15th at 1 pm on WRTI’s Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast. Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts. Also on the program is music by Rachmaninoff. 

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WRTI Arts Desk
12:50 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Sir Simon Rattle's Big News!

Simon Rattle is leaving the Berlin Philharmonic in 2017 to become music director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

There’s breaking news in the classical music world. The London Symphony Orchestra announced this morning that Simon Rattle will become its music director in September of 2017.  Rattle, chief conductor and artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002, had previously announced that he would step down from that position when his contract expires in 2018.

Creatively Speaking
6:30 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Determined To Beat MS: Cellist Robert Cafaro Plays On!

This is cellist Bob Cafaro's 30th season with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Jessica Griffin

The Philadelphia Orchestra has over 100 musicians, and as many stories - often inspiring and surprising.  WRTI’s Susan Lewis profiles Bob Cafaro, a cellist in the Orchestra since 1985, whose artistry is matched by his determination to live fully, both onstage and off.  

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Creatively Speaking
6:07 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Designing Buildings Where Art Amazes and Sound Soars

Frank Gehry at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Master Plan press preview in June, 2014. By his own account, music and art are among his favorite things.
Constance Mensh

Award-winning architect Frank Gehry, known for designing buildings with striking exteriors, is now partnering with The Philadelphia Museum of Art on a mostly interior renovation and expansion of its classical structure. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, this renowned architect is inspired by classical as well as contemporary culture.

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