Classical Weekdays

Monday through Friday, 6 am to 6 pm

WRTI brings you the best recordings of works from the vast world of classical music every weekday from 6 am to 6 pm. Chamber music, symphonies, choral works, violin concertos, piano sonatas, and more...engagingly presented with insight and a smile by our knowledgeable hosts.

Playlists are below.

John Williams, so famous for his award-winning film scores including Jaws, Star Wars, and Schindler’s List, wrote a violin concerto that transcends the personal story behind it. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

When Samuel Barber’s violin concerto was rejected by the man for whom it was commissioned in 1939, he turned to his alma mater — The Curtis Institute of Music — where the concerto was performed to acclaim, leading to its official premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked to a panel of artists about Barber’s legacy, and the pleasures and perils of creating and performing new work in Philadelphia.


In 1970, a young business school grad — and failed opera singer — named David Gockley landed a job as business manager of the Houston Grand Opera. After two years, at age 27, he moved up to general director.

Over the next 30 years, Gockley transformed the company into a hothouse for new and revived American opera. During his tenure in Houston, Gockley presented 35 world premieres, including John Adams' Nixon in China, Stewart Wallace's Harvey Milk, Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place, Mark Adamo's Little Women and three operas by Carlisle Floyd.

In its 32 year history, the PRISM Quartet has commissioned over 250 new pieces, and in doing so, re-defined the saxophone quartet itself. As the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports, this summer, they're forging unprecedented relationships with ensembles near and far.

A New Take on Timpani

Jun 11, 2016

There are not many concertos composed for timpani. But, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, Maurice Wright has written a work that celebrates the instrument and its often untapped range.


Shalimar the Clown is Salman Rushdie's eighth novel. Published in 2005, it tells the story of a young man who seeks revenge after he's jilted by the love of his life. There's intrigue, violence, and conflict between tradition and modern society — the sort of stuff that makes for grand opera.

Now, Shalimar the Clown is just that. Adapted by composer Jack Perla and Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Rajiv Joseph, the opera premieres tonight at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Rushdie says the novel sprang from one tragic image.

Director Morgan Neville made one of the most memorable music documentaries in recent times. His 2013 film 20 Feet from Stardom, for which he won an Oscar and a Grammy, chronicled the paths of five undersung rock heroes: the backup singers who enlivened some of popular music's biggest hits.

Join us this Sunday, from 1 to 3 pm, for a Philadelphia Orchestra concert from mid April that brings us two Philadelphia Orchestra commissions – Maurice Wright’s Resounding Drums, a timpani concerto composed for the Orchestra’s principal timpanist, Don Liuzzi, and the Clarinet Concerto by Jonathan Leshnoff, composed for the principal clarinetist of the Philadelphians, Ricardo Morales.

After a poor performance by a sick tenor, a 19th-century opera based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet languished in an Italian archive for over 130 years. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, thanks to the curiosity and perseverance of a contemporary conductor, the work has new life. Anthony Barrese conducts Opera Delaware’s production of Hamlet on WRTI, Saturday, June 11th at 1 pm. Tune in!


An operatic version of King Lear...why hasn't anybody thought of it before? Well, some great musical minds have indeed. And on a recent trip to Paris, The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Sterns found the composer who nailed it.

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