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!

While Samuel Barber is best known for his moving Adagio for Strings, he wrote a lot of other music that continues to inspire musicians and listeners to this day. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with filmmaker Paul Moon about his documentary, Samuel Barber: Absolute Beauty, which had its Philadelphia premiere on Saturday, July 15, 2017 on WHYY-TV.   An encore performance will air on Friday, July 21st, at noon. 

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts has resided for over 40 years in its West Fairmount Park home. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on how this Philadelphia venue for summer music came to be.

Midori's Passion Beyond the Concert Hall

Jul 19, 2017
Credit: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

The Curtis Institute of Music recently announced  that violinist Midori will be joining its faculty in 2018. Midori  has been performing with major orchestras since her 1983 New Year’s Eve debut at age 11 with The New York Philharmonic. While still in her teens, she developed another passion, which she will continue in Philadelphia.

In an era when women had little voice, 12th-century abbess Hildegard of Bingen founded her own women's monastery, authored volumes of sacred text, served as a physician to her community, wrote the oldest surviving musical morality play, and produced plainchants of great expression and beauty. She was canonized in 2012.

Credit: Joseph Lange

Mozart mentioned in a letter to his father that he wanted to write a mass for his new wife Constanze, who was a soprano. “But there was no commission,” says Temple University music history professor Steven Zohn. “It’s not usual for him to write something on spec or just because he wanted to write something that showed the love for his wife.”

Gregory Manchess

When American pianist Van Cliburn died in 2013, funeral organizers in Texas couldn’t locate an obscure piece of music he’d requested for the service. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, thanks to a Philadelphia connection, the Russian folk song was found, and is now enjoying new life in America. "Vanya Klibern," as he was called in Russia, says Inna Lobanova-Heasley, was "a rock star" there.

Peter Pagast/Restored 2015 by Thomas Walton. Photo by Steve Weinik / ©2001 Mural Arts Philadelphia

Grover Washington, Jr.’s hit albums included Mister Magic in 1974 and Winelight in 1981; the latter won him two Grammy Awards in '82. A larger-than-life mural on the corner of Broad and Diamond streets pays tribute to the famed saxophonist who, for over three decades, called Philadelphia his home. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

Even if you’re not familiar with the Broadway musical Carousel, you’re likely to have heard the uplifting message and melody of the song "You’ll Never Walk Alone." Its roots in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical extend far beyond the story of love and loss.

Tchaikovsky grappled with the issue of fate in an early symphonic poem, and in his 4th symphony, when he described it as a ‘fatal force.’ But, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, in his 5th symphony he suggests a way to be happy in the face of events beyond our control.

As we remember our War of Independence from Great Britain, you might be surprised to know that Americans deployed a surprising secret weapon—music. WRTI's Debra Lew Harder has more.

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