Arts Desk

Throughout the week

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, first performed in a radio broadcast in November of 1938, 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 in July, 2017 on WHYY-TV.   

Jennifer Higdon’s concerto, On a Wire, was inspired by images of birds, as well as the innovative versatility of the musicians of Eighth Blackbird, the contemporary soloist ensemble. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

Steak sizzling on a grill at Pat's King of Steaks. A chorus of birdsong at the Philadelphia Zoo. These are just a few of the hundreds of sounds composer Tod Machover is collecting from people who live here for a unique musical profile to be performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra in April.

The film I Called Him Morgan tells of the rise and tragic fall of trumpeter Lee Morgan, who grew up in Philadelphia.  WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with sax master Odean Pope about his memories of Morgan, who in his short life made a long-lasting contribution.

In correspondence with a patron, Tchaikovsky confessed he was grappling with the idea of fate in his Symphony No. 4. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the composer tried to make sense of his world with music that still resonates today. Listen to her conversation with Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Paola Nogueras

What’s life like for opera singers no longer on the stage? WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston looks at Quartet, a play at Bristol Riverside Theatre in Bucks County through November 19th, that portrays universal truths about the triumph and turmoil of advancing age.


Chad Lawson's interpretation of Chopin's nocturnes, preludes, and waltzes involves a surprising reconfiguration of the piano, and offers a sense of intimacy with the music that is likely new to most listeners.  A couple of years ago,  WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston learned about the power of simplicity in her conversation with pianist Chad Lawson.

The leader of an ensemble such as Temple University’s Symphony Orchestra does much to educate and prepare the next generation of musicians. WRTI's Susan Lewis talked with Artistic Director Andreas Delfs, who says the learning goes both ways.   


Sergei Rachmaninoff was so distressed by the negative reaction to the 1897 premiere of his first symphony, he stopped composing for nearly three years. What restored his confidence to compose his much-loved Piano Concerto No.2? WRTI’s Susan Lewis has the story.

Library of Congress

In the midst of World War II, a collaboration between choreographer Martha Graham and composer Aaron Copland gave birth to an enduring American classic. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston hears Appalachian Spring in a new way.

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