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

The four DePue brothers (Wallace, Jason, Zack, and Alex) were raised on classical music, barbershop, and Bluegrass. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, today they’re juggling work at conventional ensembles—with a family-based band specializing in a blend of classical and American grass roots music.

This week Hilary Hahn plays Bernstein in a live broadcast on WRTI. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, it’s all part of a season-long celebration of the Renaissance man who influenced so many, including Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Tenor sax player, composer, and arranger Tim Warfield has been performing professionally since he was sixteen. He was able to improvise at a very early age and says that by now he thinks of the saxophone as an extension of himself.

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Audience members and musicians will gather at the 23rd Street Armory in Philadelphia on December 3rd for a novel experience. Around 400 performers will play a symphony on broken basses, flutes, clarinets, autoharps, violins and cellos. 

Tchaikovsky wrote his violin concerto in 1878, but his friends and family were critical and he didn’t find a violinist to premiere it for over three years. Now, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the concerto is one of the most frequently performed concertos in the repertoire.

How about a hollowed-out pumpkin as a drum? What about a carrot as a flute? Brussel sprouts rubbed together as squeaky keepers of the beat. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston learns about vegetables with a life beyond the table. Since its official debut in 2011, the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra has evolved, this year appointing its first music director.

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.

It's National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. WRTI's Susan Lewis reports on a musical work commissioned by a man to honor his parents who died of the disease. The work for chorus, soloists, and small orchestra surprised even the composer in its power to heal.   

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