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

Emil Rhodes, Family Collection

A new biography reveals what it was like to be the first woman to enter the all-male sanctum of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston discovered the powerful combination of talent and fear.

On September 14, 1930, the headline of the Philadelphia Public Ledger read: "Solo Harpist to Be First Girl in Philadelphia Orchestra." A young Edna Phillips entered the single-sex fortress of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930 - a year after pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff called it "the finest orchestra the world has ever heard." She’d played the harp for only five years when she was hired as the first female member and principal harpist.  Her "musicalité" may have been obvious to the pioneering Leopold Stokowski, but was she ready? What was it like to be the only woman among men at a time when gender equality and workplace mores were far different from what they are today?

Author Mary Sue Welsh worked with the observant, warm, and funny Phillips on her story during Phillips’ lifetime, completing it after the first harpist’s death in 2003.  True to Phillips’ desire, it’s as much about the challenges and triumphs of her own life, as about how the Orchestra grew and responded to its conductors - particularly Leopold Stokowski. 

The New, New Young Piano Stars

Mar 6, 2013

Classical pianists just keep getting younger, and some are playing major engagements with The Philadelphia Orchestra before they're old enough to even take a legal drink.

These new young Turks are different from those of old, says The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns, because they’re making their names more from their brains and hearts rather than just their fingers.

Ars Nova means “New Art,” and for over a dozen years, Ars Nova Workshop has been presenting musicians performing jazz and experimental music in Philadelphia. Susan Lewis reports on how promoting new music is in keeping with the City's rich musical history. 

Coming up on Wednesday, March 20th at 8 pm...Ars Nova Workshop presents The Billy Hart Quartet at the Philadelphia Art Alliance on Rittenhouse Square in Center City, Philadelphia.


Music lives among the flowers at Longwood Gardens in Chester County. As Susan Lewis reports, the performing arts have always had a home at this estate-turned-botanical garden, which spans over a thousand acres with woodlands, meadows, fountains, and, of course … gardens: 20 outside and 20 in its four-acre conservatory.

Coming up at Longwood Gardens: The Vienna Boys Choir on Thursday, March 7th. Organist David Schelat on Sunday, March 10th.

Let us know Where Music Lives in your community! Add your ideas in the comments section here and check out our other Where Music Lives posts.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The term "outsider art" came into use in the early 1970s from a French description for unrefined art. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the preferred term today is “self-taught,” and a single collection of such work is the focus of a new, major exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Kimmel Center Prepares For Travels In Time

Mar 4, 2013

When the first Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) ended in May of 2011, no one knew for sure if there would be a second one. But now, as WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the city is preparing for PIFA 2013, a journey through time, which runs from March 28th to April 27th.

Yannick's Connection With Anton Bruckner

Feb 28, 2013

On The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert - a new weekly radio series on WRTI - Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin takes to the podium to conduct a symphony by one of the composers who is closest to him.  WRTI’s Jim Cotter has more.


Gioachino Rossini was born the last day of February in 1792. WRTI's Susan Lewis looks at the life and legacy of this prolific and celebrated operatic composer whose memorable melodies endure today.

His name is Yannick Nezet-Seguin, but in a New York Times profile recently, he was nicknamed "Mighty Mouse" by the opera star Joyce DiDonato.

After all, he's been saving the day for the recently distressed Philadelphia Orchestra. And, as The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports, he hopes to continue to do so in the upcoming 2013-2014 season.


Philadelphia’s All-City Orchestra has brought together talented music students from city high schools for over 60 years,. Its alumni include musicians in orchestras around the country. Students are learning from some of the best in the business, starting with their director, Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Timpani Don Liuzzi.

The annual All-Philadelphia High School Music Festival takes place on Monday March 4th at the Kimmel Center. The Philadelphia Orchestra performs the Shostakovich 5th Symphony on March 1st. 


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