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,  Debra Lew Harder, and Maureen Malloy. Arts Desk and Arts News Submission Guidelines

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.   

The film I Called Him Morgan tells of the rise and tragic fall of trumpeter Lee Morgan, who grew up in Philadelphia.  WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with sax master Odean Pope about his memories of Morgan, who in his short life made a long-lasting contribution.

In correspondence with a patron, Tchaikovsky confessed he was grappling with the idea of fate in his Symphony No. 4. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the composer tried to make sense of his world with music that still resonates today. Listen to her conversation with Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Paola Nogueras

What’s life like for opera singers no longer on the stage? WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston looks at Quartet, a play at Bristol Riverside Theatre in Bucks County through November 19th, that portrays universal truths about the triumph and turmoil of advancing age.

The complex story behind one of the most recorded songs in the "Great American Songbook" is the basis for a documentary being screened on Thursday, November 9th during this year's Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival.

Chad Lawson's interpretation of Chopin's nocturnes, preludes, and waltzes involves a surprising reconfiguration of the piano, and offers a sense of intimacy with the music that is likely new to most listeners.  A couple of years ago,  WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston learned about the power of simplicity in her conversation with pianist Chad Lawson.