Philadelphia Music Makers

The show aired from September, 2014 to April, 2015

The musicians were your hosts for Philadelphia Music Makers, a unique 31-episode series that brought you up close to instrumentalists, vocalists, and composers throughout the Philadelphia region. It aired on WRTI between September, 2014 and April, 2015.

Each one-hour show featured a classical or jazz artist - a variety of the area's best and brightest, emerging and well-established musicians, performing their favorite pieces and sharing personal and professional stories.

Classical episodes aired on Sundays at 5 pm; jazz episodes aired on Sundays at 6 pm.

Philadelphia Music Makers was co-produced by Jim Cotter and Eric Brannon. Jane Kelly was executive producer.

The series was made possible by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the generosity of an anonymous WRTI Leadership Circle member, with additional support from WRTI members.

His own piano teacher told him he wouldn’t get into Curtis, but that he ought to audition anyway, for the experience. So, two weeks after traveling from Pittsburgh with his mother to play for Rudolf Serkin and Eleanor Sokoloff, Charles Abramovic received a letter from the Curtis Institute of Music. He was accepted.

Ryan Donnell

“You fool,” David Kim said to himself. He looked out the window at the moon. He and his wife had just seen the movie Jerry Maguire, with Tom Cruise as the sports agent trying to make the A-level. David Kim had spent his entire life trying to make the A-level. And it wasn’t happening.

The Guarneri Quartet looks down at them from a frame hanging on the wall. There’s that and an espresso machine in the practice room of the Aizuri Quartet, the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. The Guarneri once taught there, but the women of Aizuri laughingly confess that sometimes they’re not sure which item in the room—the picture or the coffee-maker—is more important.

Candace diCarlo

The door closed behind Jennifer Higdon. She was in the office of her college conducting professor, Robert Spano, seeking advice about what to do. She had just heard back from the Curtis Institute of Music - they had accepted her application for graduate studies, but so had other music schools. She needed guidance.  "I'm not letting you out of here," Spano said, until she agreed to accept the spot from Curtis.

Candace diCarlo

“Kind of incredible, isn’t it?” says Jennifer Higdon. She has won a Pulitzer and a Grammy, her orchestral work blue cathedral has been performed more than 500 times, she is professor of composition at the Curtis Institute of Music, and is one of the world’s most-performed living classical composers. But when she arrived at college, she hadn’t heard of Igor Stravinsky. “I knew nothing,” she said.

When Alita Moses stepped onto the stage for the finals of the 2014 Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in Switzerland last July, she had come a long way from West Hartford, Connecticut, and a long way from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, where she is a senior jazz vocal major.

At first, “I really wanted to play the clarinet,” admits flutist Megan Emigh (pronounced AY-mee), who is principal flute for Symphony in C. She explains that the idea was to start, at age 4, on flute, and then switch later to the differently pitched clarinet, where a player has to learn how to transpose. But she liked the flute (even though her older sister already played one). “I never switched!”

Ernest Stuart: Trombonist On A Mission

Feb 26, 2015

"From the first time I saw a live performance, I knew that I had to do that."

Warren Oree's Lifelong Arpeggio

Feb 10, 2015

Growing up, Warren "Butch" Oree never had dreamed of becoming a musician. Though jazz was a constant presence in both his home life and social activities, the thought of actually getting on stage didn't cross his mind until he wandered into a music shop in his mid-twenties.

Upon learning that Oree had a long-standing interest in the upright bass that he had never pursued, the shop keeper, James Mitchell, accused him of cowardice - one thing that Oree, who was then a respected gang member, deeply resented.

The Musical Heart of Michelle Cann

Feb 3, 2015

Pianist Michelle Cann's musical evolution started early.

Her father, the music teacher at the local parochial elementary school, made sure that she had ample access to experiment from a young age.

At seven years old, Cann began piano lessons in earnest, hoping to become as successful with the instrument as her older sister, who had been taking lessons for years.

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