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

Midori's Passion Beyond the Concert Hall

Dec 22, 2016
Credit: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Violinist Midori has been performing with major orchestras since her 1983 New Year’s Eve debut at age 11 with The New York Philharmonic. While still in her teens, she developed another passion.  

The Unusual Christmas Oratorio of J.S. Bach

Dec 21, 2016

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.

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. “My Favorite Things,” with its holiday imagery, and its reminder to remember one’s favorite things when times are sad, has been adopted and adapted by jazz artists and pop artists to this day.

This month in 1927, Duke Ellington’s orchestra opened at New York’s Cotton Club. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, it was a gig that would fire up Ellington’s career and change the way people thought about jazz. Terry Teachout's Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington is published by Gotham Books.

It’s a world with a language of its own. The Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall is being converted into a movie palace—with all of the broad audience appeal implied—but with key differences.

Each night as Jews around the world observe Hanukkah—the eight-day Festival of Lights—an age-old song, Maoz Tsur ("Rock of Ages"), is sung after the lighting of the candles on the menorah.  Rabbi David Gerber of Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen, PA gives Meridee Duddleston some insight into the history and meaning of the hymn.

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.

Although Handel’s Messiah is now regularly performed during the Christmas holidays, the work was actually premiered in the spring before Easter. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on the fantastically successful masterpiece, which was created by necessity in just 24 days over two centuries ago.


Marco Borggreve

Is leading a symphony orchestra anything like playing chess? As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, one very busy conductor, Alain Altinoglu, is drawn to both.

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, WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston wondered when and where those first citizens might have heard the great Baroque work.

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