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

Listeners may not think about the visuals in an orchestra concert, but body language is an important way in which musicians communicate with one another. From his chair, Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim leads Mozart’s Serenade in G Major: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik the way it would have been done in Mozart’s time, without a conductor, on January 10th, 11th, and 12th in concerts at the Kimmel Center.

Kim talks with WRTI’s Susan Lewis about body motion and playing without a conductor. Concert information here.

A new year, a new book to nurture the hearts and minds of Philadelphians - and everyone!  The award-winning novel by Julie Otsuka - The Buddha in the Attic - is a Japanese-American story of things left behind. It's this year’s One Book, One Philadelphia choice.

Starting January 17th through mid-March, The Free Library of Philadelphia will lead readers on a journey through the lives of Japanese-American “picture brides.” Their story starts with a voyage in steerage in the early 1900s, and culminates as they’re sent away to government internment camps during World War II. Otsuka’s rich portrayal reveals as much about our national character during those years as the personal resilience of these first-generation immigrants.  

This past fall, the author shared her thoughts about writing The Buddha in the Attic - a prequel to her first celebrated novel, When the Emperor was Divine.

More about the Free Library of Philadelphia's One Book, One Philadelphia initiative.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

Artist Linda Lee Alter began collecting art by women in the mid 1980s after finding a dearth of female artists represented in museums and galleries. She collected a variety of art in different styles and media, and in 2010 donated approximately 500 works to Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Now on view at PAFA, The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World, is an exhibition of nearly 250 works from the collection. 

Be sure to check out a companion exhibition opening at PAFA on Saturday, January 12th: Modern Women at PAFA: From Cassatt to O'Keeffe.

In the first part of the 20th century, George Gershwin found fortune as a composer of popular songs, which were used in dozens of Broadway and Hollywood musicals - many of which he created with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin. 

The work that launched him as a classical composer, however, was Rhapsody in Blue.  It premiered in  1924, and was performed for decades by orchestras throughout the world. Before he died in 1937 at the age of 38, Gershwin would compose many solo pieces for piano, the first great American opera, Porgy and Bess, and a number of orchestral works.

WRTI’s Susan Lewis  considers George Gershwin and his musical legacy.

Happy Birthday, Nadja!

Jan 6, 2013

Her story is - in its way - a great American immigrant’s tale. And this week, the Italian-born American violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is celebrating her 51st birthday.

As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, most of that time has been spent in the spotlight.

Creatively Speaking Retrospective

Dec 29, 2012

As WRTI's weekly Saturday morning arts and culture show transitions to a daily feature format, Jim Cotter, Susan Lewis, David Patrick Stearns and Eric Brannon look at highlights from the show's almost 500 episodes.  

Over the last nine years, the greater Philadelphia region has experienced astounding growth in the scale and quality of music, the fine arts, theater, and dance, as well as a wealth of other cultural activities.

We revisit memorable performances and exhibitions, and recall explorations of the widely varied hubs of artistic endeavors. We look back on our many conversations with international and local superstars, lesser-known and emerging artists, and art lovers who are shaping our world today.

Starting on January 7th, you'll hear 90-second Creatively Speaking features nine to ten times each day. Look for more stories about music, arts, and culture from Jim, Susan, David, and the newest member of the team, Meridee Duddleston.

We'll also be presenting a special series within Creatively Speaking: Where Music Lives; you'll hear 60 stories, throughout 2013, of how music is making a difference in the communities WRTI serves.

One Of The Finest Pianists Of Her Generation: Calling It Quits

Dec 22, 2012

The acclaimed Maria Joao Pires announced that she will retire in 2014. The Philadelphia Inquirer's  David Patrick Stearns profiles the demure but exquisite Portuguese pianist.

Alisa Weilerstein and The Elgar Cello Concerto: Her Way

Dec 15, 2012

David Patrick Stearns profiles American cellist Alisa Weilerstein. She’s in town to perform the iconic Elgar cello concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra this week.

Gianandrea Noseda Takes Philadelphia Orchestra Sound Back In Time

Dec 11, 2012

If anybody knows Rachmaninoff, it’s The Philadelphia Orchestra. The ensemble inspired the composer  to write his final orchestral work: the Symphonic Dances, and collaborated with him intensively until his death in 1943. Since then, the Orchestra has maintained an unbroken tradition of performing works by Rachmaninoff, from the eras of Eugene Ormandy through Charles Dutoit. 

The esteemed Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda, who has the trust and affection of the musicians from past guest engagements, recently conducted Rachmaninoff at the Kimmel Center. The conductor brought to these performances the rediscovery of a sound from which the orchestra has perhaps drifted. As The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns reports, Noseda may just about be out-Ormandying Eugene Ormandy.

Pianist Seymour Lipkin: Still Scaling Artistic Heights

Nov 24, 2012

The Philadelphia Inquirer's ’s David Patrick Stearns profiles Seymour Lipkin, a pianist who - in his mid 80s -  is taking on Beethoven's massive Hammerklavier sonata, among other daunting musical feats.