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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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
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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Creatively Speaking
7:18 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Stephen Hough on Tchaikovsky: Finding New Inspiration from an Old Master

Pianist Stephen Hough

Concert pianist Stephen Hough also composes, writes articles for an online publication, and likes to paint.  As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the internationally renowned soloist continues to find fresh inspiration in the great masterworks.

Stephen Hough is soloist on WRTI's Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast - Sunday, November 9 at 1 pm.  Tune in to hear Hough play Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Philadelphians.

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Creatively Speaking
11:00 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Losing His Head in the Opera, Salome: Bass-Baritone Alan Held

In Richard Strauss' SALOME, the character depicting John the Baptist is beheaded after he refuses the advances of Salome.

It was a Bible story, and then a French play by Oscar Wilde. Then it was translated into German, before Strauss turned it into his opera, Salome. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a production from May, 2014 continued the evolution of this complex and compelling work of art.

On Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 1 pm on WRTI, listen to a recorded broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia performing Richard Strauss' Salome.

Creatively Speaking
6:30 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Soprano Camilla Nylund: Singing SALOME Throughout The World

Lyric dramatic soprano Camilla Nylund, a native of Finland, singing Salome with Opera Philadelphia and The Philadelphia Orchestra in May, 2014.
Dominic Mercier

Oscar Wilde’s late 19th-century play, retelling the biblical story of Salome, became the basis for Richard Strauss' one-act opera SALOME that premiered in Dresden in 1905. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the opera continues to shock and dazzle, nearly a century later.

WRTI re-broadcasts The Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia in a joint production of Salome, with Camilla Nylund in the title role, on Sunday, November 2 at 1 pm.

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