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

So, you want to know how vocalist Kevin Valentine is making it as a musician after leaving behind a full-time legal career? As WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston found out, it takes more than talent.

Every year on Bloomsday, which falls on June 16th, the Rosenbach Museum and Library near Rittenhouse Square organizes more than 70 volunteers to read aloud James Joyce’s once-banned novel Ulysses. But, as WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston finds out, a full appreciation may require more than reading.

Steve Prince

Composer Hannibal Lokumbe continues to take his music into the city's communities on June 15th, 16th, and 17th, highlighting the roles music can play in fostering forgiveness and healing. This is his second extended visit to Philadelphia, as part of his three-year, composer-in-residency with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The songs, or standards, known to us today as "The Great American Songbook" flourished from the mid 1920s to about 1950. Singer Carmen McRae popularized the term with her 1972 album, The Great American Songbook. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a new book on the subject shines light on the role of jazz in the rise, fall, and rebirth of these great American songs.


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.

Credit: Matthew Murphy

Benj Pasek (an Ardmore native) and Justin Paul—best friends from their days at the University of Michigan—won a 2017 Academy Award for writing the lyrics to the song "City of Stars" from the hit film La La Land. They're also Golden Globe winners! And now... they can add Tony awards to the mantle, including the 2017 Tony for Best Musical.

Symphonies and concertos are composed to be performed in their entirety, but sometimes individual movements take on lives of their own. WRTI’s Susan Lewis considers the slow movement of Robert Schumann’s Violin Concerto with violinist Joshua Bell.

Edvard Grieg was just 24 when he wrote his only completed piano concerto in 1868. It's one of his greatest works, and launched his international career. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.
 


The song “Some Enchanted Evening” is a sublime moment in the post-war production South Pacific that continues to inspire. Louis Armstrong, Billy Eckstine, Placido Domingo, The Temptations, Barbra Streisand, José Carreras, Bob Dylan, Jane Oliver and lots of other artists have recorded it.

“Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, ” “My Funny Valentine,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “The Sound of Music." With over 900 songs to his name, composer Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) left an indelible mark on American musical theater. His songs became an important part of the Great American Songbook, in part because jazz artists and singers loved to re-invent them. If Rodgers had had his way, though, he wouldn’t have let anyone else change a note. Why not?

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