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

Grammy-Winning Eighth Blackbird Helms Schoenberg At Curtis

Apr 8, 2013

Once ignored by conservatories and reviled by audiences, Schoenberg’s half-spoken, half-sung Pierrot Lunaire is being intensively rehearsed for performances by Curtis Institute of Music musicians on Monday and Tuesday of next week (April 15th and 16th).

As The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports, the instigators are visiting professors who don’t look much different from the students: the modern music ensemble eighth blackbird, who are in the first year of a three-year residency that should extend the Curtis tradition to the cutting edge.

A concert series in southern New Jersey’s Washington Township attracts top-notch performers from the region, across the river, New York, and all around.  The Music at Bunker Hill concerts take place in a church built on a high point in Gloucester County. Starting with three concerts, the program has steadily grown.  Now in its fifth season, the Sunday series stands out as a breath of fresh air.  

The sanctuary of Bunker Hill Presbyterian Church is the venue for Music at Bunker Hill, and it's Where Music Lives. Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim will perform there on April 28th at 3 pm.


WRTI’s concert broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra on Sunday, April 14th features the music of two Romantic Viennese masters.  WRTI’s Susan Lewis talks with concertmaster David Kim about how the symphonies of Franz Schubert and Anton Bruckner bring out the famous Philadelphia sound, and about the interpretation of guest conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi.  

Listen to this Sunday’s WRTI concert broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra, which will include an interview at Intermission with concertmaster David Kim. 

Renowned Swedish-Born Artist Honored

Apr 8, 2013

In 1638, decades before William Penn and his fellow Quakers arrived in Pennsylvania, a small group of Swedish settlers founded the “New Sweden Colony” along the banks of the Delaware River.

Today, traces of Philadelphia’s Swedish heritage are easy to find. For instance, take the city’s flag, which, with its three vertical stripes of blue, gold and blue, strongly resembles Sweden’s national flag. 

Swedish and Swedish-American cultural, heritage and traditions are preserved and promoted by the American Swedish Historical Museum in South Philadelphia. And as WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the museum is honoring a well-known living Swedish-American artist with strong ties to Philadelphia.


WRTI will broadcast a Philadelphia Orchestra performance of Mozart and Beethoven this Sunday, highlighting some musical connections between these two masters.  As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, on the podium will be Christoph von Dohnanyi who has a longtime connection with the Philadelphians.  

The harp is one of the world’s oldest instruments. And now, thanks to the efforts of Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Harpist Elizabeth Hainen, concert grand harps are once again being played in Philadelphia schools.

As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, Hainen is the driving force behind The Lyra Society, an organization she founded in 2004 to promote the harp through new commissions and lessons in the Philadelphia schools.

The Lyra Society presents A Harpist's Homecoming, with Philadelphia students and former Boston Symphony Principal Harp Ann Hobson Pilot, on Friday, April 5, 2013 at 6 pm at Philadelphia High School for Girls at Broad and Olney Streets. Information here.

Listen to Elizabeth Hainen's interview with Susan Lewis about nurturing the next generation of Philadelphia harpists.

Wolfie, Meet Ludwig!

Apr 1, 2013

On this Sunday's Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcast, a pianist - world renowned for his interpretations of the music of Beethoven - performs a Mozart piano concerto. Surprisingly, it contains music by both great composers, as WRTI's Jim Cotter reports.

You can hear Rudolf Buchbinder perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 with The Philadelphia Orchestra on-air and online on WRTI.org at 2 pm on Sunday, April 7th.

Rudolf Buchbinder conducting Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 from the keyboard with the Vienna Philharmonic:

The second Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, or PIFA 2013, opened on March 28th.  As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the Kimmel Center Plaza is once again be its hub - this time, with a giant Time Machine, and a number of free events. Kimmel Center President Anne Ewers says the festival highlights the Center's role as a public gathering space.

The city festival features music, theater, dance, and other activities staged by over 50 PIFA partners.   

A number of free events will take place on the Kimmel’s Commonwealth Plaza, including Friday at noon concerts, late-night jazz, and a musical production Tuesday through Sunday nights.  The 31-day festival ends with a public day-long fair on Broad Street on April 27th.

Watch a video featuring PIFA partners talking about their work and the idea of time travel.

An annual Jazz@The Point Festival is a cornerstone for the Somers Point Jazz Society; but the nine-year-old organization also spreads jazz around southern New Jersey throughout the year. Lectures and student workshops regularly round out concerts and performances at local venues all around Somers Point. 

The Somers Point Jazz Society has helped put on a Tuesday night jazz series at Sandi Point Coastal Bistro for the last two years. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston stopped in recently on a show that featured Melanie Rice - vocals, Dean Schneider – piano,  accompanied by Tim Lekan – bass, and Bob Shomo – drums.


Tom Mihalek

Even before The Philadelphia Orchestra's new music director took up his post, he'd begun reaching out to other arts organizations. As WRTI's Jim Cotter reports, the Orchestra is now set to present an ambitious co-production of a Richard Strauss masterpiece with Opera Philadelphia.

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