Arts Desk

Check out stories by WRTI arts reporters Meridee Duddleston, Susan Lewis,  Debra Lew Harder, and Maureen Malloy. Arts Desk and Arts News Submission Guidelines

Once home to jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, Philadelphia still has a committed jazz contingent. WRTI's Susan Lewis talked with Christ Dhimitri and Mark DeNinno, past and present owners of Chris’ Jazz Café, an active jazz club in Center City.

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.

An Insider's Look At Outsider Musicians

Mar 19, 2013

“Great and Mighty Things” are being seen at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That’s the title of a highly unorthodox exhibition of self-taught or outsider art: works by people unschooled, unfiltered, and unmediated by outside aesthetics, but created out of a pure inner need.

But don't think that outsider artists are confined to the idiosyncratic paintings, drawings and sculptures that  can be seen at the museum through June. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns hears outsider composers everywhere, even in the insider realms of Princeton University.


Temple Dance Creates New Multimedia Work

Mar 17, 2013

Temple University's Dance Department has commissioned a new work to be performed by world-renowned, Philadelphia-based Rennie Harris Puremovement. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the piece was created for a site-specific performance beneath the mural in North Philadelphia for which it is named.


Candace diCarlo

This month, WRTI is showcasing the works of various women composers. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston looks at a Philadelphia favorite: Jennifer Higdon.

Philadelphia’s Jennifer Higdon is among the most frequently performed living American composers. Now 50, the successful, unpretentious, and endlessly creative Higdon is adding an opera to her extensive repertoire. It’s a joint commission of The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia based on Charles Frazier’s Civil War novel Cold Mountain. Higdon’s family moved from Atlanta to east Tennessee when she was an adolescent– about 40 miles, she says, as the crow flies from Cold Mountain. That geographic proximity fueled her insight into the characters she’s recasting in operatic form.

Higdon’s partner, Cheryl Lawson, runs Lawdon Press, the company that publishes and distributes Higdon’s works.  Among her most-performed compositions is blue cathedral, a tone poem she wrote after the death, from cancer, of her brother Andrew Blue Higdon. Her works have been recorded on dozens of CDs and performed around the world.  


Temple University Ensemble Debuts New Work

Mar 17, 2013

Earlier this year the Temple University Symphony Orchestra was nominated for two Grammy awards. Now, as WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the ensemble is preparing to debut a newly commissioned piece by a Grammy-winning composer.

In a program that also features Samuel Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard, featuring the combined Temple choirs, and Shostakovich's Ninth Symphony, the Temple University Symphony Orchestra conducted by Luis Biava will perform the world premiere of  Reflections on the Mississippi by Michael Daugherty at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall on Sunday, March 24 at 4 pm. Information Here. WRTI will broadcast the concert in the near future.


While there are many concertos for string instruments, fewer works exist for woodwinds, brass or percussion. Yet, as Susan Lewis reports, a previously under-performed work for trumpet from the early 19th century became part of the standard repertoire in the second half of the 20th. 

Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Trumpet David Bilger plays the Hummel Trumpet Concerto in The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcast on Sunday, March 17th at 2 pm.

*Listen to a more in-depth conversation with David Bilger during the Intermission of the Orchestra's concert broadcast on Sunday, March 17th.

Francesca da Rimini Revived At The Met

Mar 12, 2013

 

There may be no other historical figure about whom more operas have been written than Francesca da Rimini.  The 13th-century Italian aristocrat has been the subject of more than a dozen eponymous works for the opera stage.  And, as WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, most of them get her story wrong.

In the Metropolitan Opera’s revival of the rarely performed Francesca da Rimini, which airs on WRTI on March 16th and will also be transmitted live in HD at movie theaters in our region, tenor Robert Brubaker (a Lancaster, PA native) sings Malatestino, a third brother also in love with Francesca who helps plot her demise.

Now in its 10th season, Intercultural Journeys is an organization that seeks to foster greater communication and peace between people of diverse faiths and conflicting cultures through world-class performances in music, dance and the spoken word.

Founded by Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Udi Bar-David, the group has drawn artists from all over the world, including stage, film, and television star Mandy Patinkin.

Mr. Patinkin performs with Intercultural Journeys' Middle Eastern Ensemble on Sunday, March 17th, 3 pm at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia.


Pianist Van Cliburn's international fame landed him on the popular '50s and '60s television quiz show What's My Line? as a mystery guest - not a typical scenario for most classical artists.

In the wake of his death from cancer on Feb. 27th, the music world is reminded anew that winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 did him a world of good as well as a world of harm. Yet he wasn't the only one. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns looks at the somewhat lost generation that was Cliburn's pianistic contemporaries, including Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman, and Byron Janis.

PA Ballet Makes Itself At Home

Mar 11, 2013
Paul Kolnik

Pennsylvania Ballet’s latest production, A Midsummer Night's Dream, will be the first to be prepared and rehearsed in its new $17.5 million, purpose-built home on North Broad Street. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the company has also revived its ballet school and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.


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