A manuscript of a J.S. Bach cantata casts a new light on how Bach intended the piece to be played. A singer gains insight from a line in a Porgy and Bess manuscript that differs from the final lyrics. The Music Division of the massive Library of Congress in Washington, DC, is a place where performers, composers, scholars and the general public make discoveries of the musical kind.
Case in point: in a series of letters written in 1957 to his wife Felicia, while she was visiting her family in Santiago, Chile, Leonard Bernstein faithfully chronicles the progress of West Side Story during the final weeks of rehearsal through the show’s out-of-town opening in Washington, D.C. The letters reveal Bernstein’s changing emotions about the show from frustration and agony to his final state of euphoria. In addition to comments about West Side Story, Bernstein writes about signing his contract as conductor with the New York Philharmonic, his upcoming thirty-ninth birthday, and how much he misses Felicia and their children, Jamie and Alexander. Read the letters here.
The Special Collections of the Music Division are truly fascinating and constitute a resource for musical scholarship that is unmatched anywhere in the world. These unique bodies of materials are extraordinarily vast and diverse, yet very much interrelated. They include some of the greatest treasures of the Music Division and the Library of Congress.
The Crossing, Philadelphia’s foremost contemporary music chorus, begins a newly expanded season this Sunday, September 15th. The choir will now perform throughout the year. WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports that though the group is growing its output, its artistic vision will not change.
Philadelphia-area native Donald Nally has had a varied and storied career. In addition to a term as artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, Nally has also been chorus master of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, The Spoleto Festival, Welsh National Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Nally stepped down from Lyric at the end of the 2010-2011 season to fully dedicate himself to what he acknowledges as his greatest passion: The Crossing. The Philadelphia-based chamber choir is dedicated to performing new and contemporary choral music; its popularity with audiences is growing and growing...
Philadelphia’s premiere opera company begins its new season this month with a new name and a fresh approach to presenting its work. The Opera Company of Philadelphia starts its first season as Opera Philadelphia. The name changed to better reflect the diversity and scope of its artistic output.
Now, from the traditional opera company that grew out of the 1975 merger of the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company and the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company, comes a producer and presenter with a three-stranded approach. And, says General Director David Devan, maybe even three separate sets of audiences.
While jazz giant John Coltrane was born and raised in North Carolina, and died in New York, he spent 15 years in Philadelphia. WRTI’s Susan Lewis looks at the role the city played in the career of this master sax player and composer, who would have turned 87 this month.
Music lives in a quaint, historic building on Philadelphia’s Locust Street, just a few doors down from the Curtis Institute of Music, where David Michie restores and sells violins and bows, drawing virtuoso musicians from far and wide. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston paid a visit to this master craftsman.
Master violin restorer and dealer David Michie recounts how renowned French archetier (the French term for bow maker) Eugene Sartory policed the market for counterfeits of his work. Michie also provides some advice on choosing a bow in these excerpts of an interview with Meridee Duddleston.
Michie has much to say about the importance of a high-quality bow. "What the Italians were to string instruments, the French were to bows," he explains. In the 1800s, large blocks of wood from the pernambuco tree were used as ballast in ships making their way from Brazil to France. And Francois Tourte, who developed the modern bow and is considered the “Stradavarius of bow makers,” took to the wood and started using it. Pernambuco is now an endangered species whose export is restricted. Although carbon fiber and other substitutes are now in the mix, Michie says nothing beats a bow made of pernambuco wood from Brazil. Here's the website for David Michie Violins.
Coming up on Sunday, September 15th, WRTI's Sunday radio broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert features, on the podium, Englishman Simon Rattle, the music director of the Berlin Philharmonic. The internationally renowned conductor has a bond with the Philadelphians, nurtured over the last 20 years.
In the radio broadcast, Rattle leads the orchestra in a program featuring symphonies no. 6 and 7 of Sibelius, Norman’s Unstuck, and Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 3 with Lang Lang as soloist.
So Percussion is one of the most celebrated groups its kind in the U.S. and can usually be counted on for high-intensity rhythms. But in their one hour at the Philadelphia Fringe Arts festival this week they do a fair amount of talking, and in ways that suggest the cutting edge is getting softer.
Lovers of classical music and jazz, musicians and composers, are acutely tuned in to the acoustics of a performance space. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston looks at the acoustical demands of a concert hall.
Large performance spaces need to provide enjoyable listening experiences across many musical genres and forms of entertainment. That’s why varying the acoustics of a given environment is a threshold issue that makes a big difference. Acoustical engineer and inventor Niels Adelman-Larsen has developed a new variable acoustic system for concert halls that relies on inflatable sound absorbers.
Barbara Hannigan is a world-renowned vocalist at home in many genres. She's known especially for her performances of contemporary music. This Sunday, WRTI’s broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra in concert, features Hannigan in what has become one of her signature works: Ligetti's Mysteries of the Macabre. Berlin Philharmonic Music Director Simon Rattle conducts.