Arts Desk

Listen to WRTI's Arts Desk features for a daily look into the world of music, arts, and culture. Listen to brief features throughout the day!

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J.S. Bach wrote hundreds of sacred cantatas for voices and orchestra on liturgical texts. One season in Bach’s life reveals some of the cantatas he thought would endure through generations.

The true story of a 19th-century swindler in New York City inspired not only an opera, but also a concerto. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on Bramwell Tovey’s Songs of the Paradise Saloon for trumpet and orchestra.

In an era when everything musical is available all the time, I'm still puzzling why I ordered an overwhelmingly large box set of recordings by the French chanteuse Edith Piaf.

Since it opened its doors in 1913, the Apollo Theater has survived a series of iterations, closures, renovations, and shifts in direction. Its allure as a venue for jazz began in the 1930s with the debut of Jazz a la Carte, a show with an all-black cast.

Jessica Griffin

Early solo viola repertoire was often played by violinists who also played the viola. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, that music today puts violists in the spotlight, including Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Violist Choong-Jin (C.J.) Chang.

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.


It took ten years to write Whisper Not, The Autobiography of Benny Golson, by tenor saxophonist and composer Benny Golson and his longtime friend, writer Jim Merod. Walking down the “corridor of life” Golson says, there are surprises, some delightful, and some not.

The documentary film The Music of Strangers, and a companion CD, Sing Me Home—from Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble— both snared 2017 Grammy nominations, and a Grammy win for the CD for Best World Music Album. WRTI's Susan Lewis has the story on the Silk Road Ensemble, a group that seeks connections across cultures.
 


Jazz artists have always used a collection of written music called "Real Books" to learn jazz standards. As WRTI's Maureen Malloy reports, Philadelphia now has its own Real Book, shining the spotlight on local composers.

Credit: Rob Shanahan

The trumpet was the instrument of kings, in court and on the battlefield. Today the orchestral trumpet is an instrument for virtuosos, and used for a variety of purposes. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

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