Arts Desk

If you missed any of our short Arts Desk features on the air, you can always find them right here, along with additional related content. Check out stories by WRTI arts reporters Meridee Duddleston, Susan Lewis, David Patrick Stearns, Debra Lew Harder, Kile Smith, and Maureen Malloy. Arts Desk and Arts News Submission Guidelines

J.S. Bach’s unconventional Christmas Oratorio (Weihnachts-Oratorium), composed in 1733 and 1734, is less known than his other major works, and it showcases the composer's innovation and resourcefulness. WRTI's Susan Lewis reports.

Handel’s Messiah, originally composed for performance during the springtime Christian observance of Lent, has become a contemporary staple of Christmas celebrations in modern America. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on this 18th-century oratorio.

Today, The Nutcracker ballet is as much a Christmas tradition as eggnog, jingle bells, and mistletoe. But centuries ago – long before a nutcracker appeared on stage – miners in the rural Ore Mountain region of Germany began carving the ubiquitous household statuettes. The whimsical, dual-purpose figurines were toys that inspired children's play, and tools that cracked nuts for all.

The legendary Broadway musical writing team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II produced their final show together, The Sound of Music, nine months before Hammerstein passed away of cancer. Yet throughout all the songs of the show, there’s a great sense of hope and optimism.

A 1962 record of holiday music by The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Temple University Concert choir "went gold" in 1963 and continues to be sold today. WRTI’s Susan Lewis explores its ongoing appeal with violinist Herb Light, who played on the original recording of The Glorious Sound of Christmas.

John Devlin

Born in 1961 in New Orleans, jazz and classical trumpet player, and composer, Wynton Marsalis grew up playing in churches, jazz bands, and orchestras. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, his 2015 violin concerto reflects the varied musical landscape of America.

Philadelphia’s role in the formation of our government is characteristic of a time when the city and its leading residents were forging firsts of all kinds.  As Handel’s Messiah is performed this holiday season, you might wonder when and where those first citizens might have heard the great Baroque work.

The second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7—the Allegretto—has captivated listeners since the symphony’s 1813 premiere, when it was so popular that the orchestra used it as an encore. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on why this particular movement continues to engages us.

Each night as Jews around the world observe Hanukkah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, the age-old song Maoz Tsur—"Rock of Ages" in Hebrew—is sung after the lighting of the candles on the menorah. 

You can take a bus or a car to the historic mansions of Fairmount Park this holiday season, but in the past a sleigh would have carried you there. Here’s WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston on the sights you may have seen along the way. 

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