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!

“Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, ” “My Funny Valentine,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “The Sound of Music." With over 900 songs to his name, composer Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) left an indelible mark on American musical theater. His songs became an important part of the Great American Songbook, in part because jazz artists and singers loved to re-invent them. If Rodgers had had his way, though, he wouldn’t have let anyone else change a note. Why not?

André Watts, Credit: Adrian Siegel Collection / The Philadelphia Orchestra Archives

Born in Germany in 1946, André Watts moved to Philadelphia with his Hungarian mother and American father when he was 8 years old. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, after decades of performing, the celebrated pianist still finds new inspiration and challenges in the music.

The path to landing a full-time position as an orchestral musician can be a rocky and competitive climb.  As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, one successful percussion player says it's all about staying with it, and  "Sticking It Out," which is the title of a new memoir by Patti Niemi.


This year’s One Book, One Philadelphia features the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. There’s a musical analog to this imaginative tale; Curtis Institute of Music composition student Nick DiBerardino read the book and conjured a piece for percussion. His composition "Homunculus" will premiere on Wednesday, January 25th, 7:30 pm at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Parkway Central Library, as this year’s One Book events get underway.

Pianist Lara Downes' Vision of the American Dream

Jan 19, 2017

The hope in the "American Dream" is heard in America Again, the new CD by pianist Lara Downes. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has the story.

Dr. Albert Barnes was often keen to mix music with his legendary art collection. So in that spirit, the Barnes Foundation will be adding some 16 concerts to Philadelphia’s classical music community. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports they will be serious.

Finding Jazz in Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto

Jan 16, 2017

It was the late 1920s when French composer Maurice Ravel first heard jazz in the United States and in Paris, where it was also popular. How did it influence his 1931 Piano Concerto in G Major? WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

What Is a Fugue?

Jan 16, 2017

You don’t need to know anything about classical music to love it. But a deeper understanding of its rich history and context can add something special to your listening experience. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston takes us on this short flight of the fugue, which reached the height of its popularity in the Baroque period.

The Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service is the largest event of its kind in the country.  Volunteers spread out across the region to perform all kinds of service projects. Thousands converge on the campus of Girard College for a full slate of activities, including a job fair. 

Credit: Dirty Sugar Photography

Benj Pasek (an Ardmore native) and Justin Paul—best friends from their days at the University of Michigan—just won a 2017 Golden Globe Award for writing the lyrics to the song "City of Stars" from the hit film La La Land.

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