The clarinet is a versatile woodwind instrument that has evolved from its 18th-century beginnings. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, classical composers have used it to create a variety of moods. Philadelphia Orchestra's Principal Clarinet Ricardo Morales illustrates some of the different sounds the clarinet can create, including the cuckoo sound, used by Beethoven in his Symphony No. 6.
Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcast on WRTI on Sunday, September 8th at 2 pm to hear the Orchestra perform Beethoven's sixth symphony. Also on the program is music by Webern, Berg, and Ligeti.
Music lives in South Philadelphia through The Jazz Sanctuary, an organization that takes jazz into to houses of worship and other nontraditional venues. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, founder Alan Segal says jazz and the spiritual community drove his recovery from a life threatening crisis.
The Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill has an enviable collection of art in the realist tradition, from the 1800s to the present. It also has a renowned annual juried show which, this year, as WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, is dedicated to local, cutting-edge art.
In Front of Strangers, I Sing: The 72nd Annual Woodmere Museum Juried Exhibition curated by Dona Nelson and Rubens Genoff runs through September 1, 2013.
Meridee Duddleston looks at the life and career of Philadelphia Orchestra harpist Edna Phillips (1907-2003).
A recently published biography reveals what it was like to be the first woman to enter the all-male sanctum of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1930s. 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.
Listen to excerpts from author Mary Sue Welsh's conversation with Meridee Duddleston.
Carolyn Nicosia studied with Edna Phillips in the early 1950s. [After hearing our feature on Edna Philips, Carolyn contacted Meridee and shared a personal remembrance and an inscribed photo. Thank you, Carolyn Nicosia!]
How I became a student of Edna Phillips:
My mother’s mother (Maria Quintile Riccardi) migrated to the U.S. from a village in Italy that had produced many harpists. Her brothers also came to the U.S. and took up their musical careers. Joseph Quintile was harpist for the St. Louis Symphony and later for film studios in Hollywood. Anthony Quintile was a bass player who played at various venues and also taught bass and solfeggio (he taught me when I was a child of 8 or 9).
My mother’s brothers almost all made their living as musicians, mostly bass players. Rex Riccardi worked with Petrillo to found the Musicians’ Union.
Of my cousins, several of the boys also became musicians, either piano or bass. One, Frank Caster, was a student at Curtis, who became a member of the Washington Symphony and then the San Francisco Symphony. Another became a restorer of violins in addition to playing bass.
When I was a child I started harp lessons at age 6 or 7. My teacher at that time was Joseph Leonardo. It was he who found a small-sized Lyon and Healy harp for me and made arrangements of music so that no key changes were required during playing because my feet could not reach the pedals.
Over the years I was on and off again with practicing. Then, during one of his family visits East, Uncle Joe Quintile told my mother that I should try again to take up the harp seriously, and it was he who contacted Edna Phillips and asked her to take me as a pupil. I was about 14 or 15 years old.
As a student of Edna Phillips:
Edna Phillips came to our house to see my harp and meet my family. She agreed to take me as a student. Since we had little money and even her “professional courtesy” charge per hour was beyond our means, Miss Phillips agreed to take me for a half hour at her house on Sundays.
I traveled by trolley and 2 buses to her home near what was formerly The Textile Institute. It seemed to me to be a very large and impressive house, but she was very kind to me when I went for lessons.
I remember Miss Phillips telling me stories about Carlos Salzedo of Curtis - his method of playing harp and his design of a new harp made by Lyon and Healy. Miss Phillips later had one of the Salzedo harps.
One aspect of the Salzedo method was the way the arms were to be held, to give more strength. Miss Phillips said that she was once playing for a great conductor (probably Stokowski) who felt that the new method wasn’t allowing her tone to be loud enough. So she fooled him, playing exactly the same way in two instances, but in one of them she threw up her hands after the passage, to the great approval of the conductor who said she had given him just what he wanted.
Once I was invited to stay for lunch and I met Mr. Rosenbaum and their two children. It was all new and grand to me. I remember the setting very well.
Another time the weather had become cold so Miss Phillips lent me a sweater to wear on my long journey back home. I had never felt anything so soft! I learned later that it was cashmere.
It wasn’t long before Miss Phillips realized that I wasn’t really a musician. Knowing our limited finances, she suggested to my mother that I transfer to one of the students of harp at Curtis, Nanette Norton. She told me wonderful stories about what they were learning from Salzedo.
However, as I mentioned above, I really didn’t have the talent. It seems that the musical ability in our family has passed from generation to generation only to the males. We females can sing well enough to join choirs or take music lessons on various instruments, but none of us are professional musicians. So I gave up my studies. I kept the harp for many years until finally I sold it.
Classical music soloists must spend a lot of time practicing their instruments. But some stars are connecting with fans in ways that reach beyond the concert hall. WRTI’s Susan Lewis spoke with pianist Jonathan Biss and violinist Hilary Hahn.
WRTI's Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcast on August 25th features Jonathan Biss playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 13. On September 29th, WRTI's concert broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra includes Hilary Hahn playing Korngold's Violin Concerto.
Philadelphians don’t often envy their neighbors in the north. But it was hard not to, when Yannick Nezet- Seguin conducted his Orchestre Metropolitain de Montreal in an all-star concert performance of Wagner's Lohengrin at Festival Lanaudiere outside of Montreal on August 11th.
Even a significant diva cliffhanger didn't stop it, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns.
The musical Hair opened on Broadway, and 2001: A Space Odyssey was at the movies. It was also in 1968 that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, and 14,000 American military personnel died in Vietnam.
Music lives at WRTI, where throughout 2013 we're celebrating our 60th anniversary. "The Diamond Sessions” - a series of classical and jazz performances, recorded live before audiences at the WRTI studios, are just a part of these celebrations. The first session featured jazz vocalist Joanna Pascale who told WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston that, for her, it all starts with the lyrics.
Joanna Pascale also teaches vocals in the jazz program at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. In this excerpt, Pascale shares her insight on breaking down the lyrics to create meaning, as well as her favorite lyricists and writing on her own.
Why do people cough during classical music concerts? Is it a physical reflex or is there something else going on? WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston takes a look at some recent research
Hiccups and sneezes are not a standard accompaniment to a performance of classical music. But when was the last time a live performance was free of coughing? At a classical music concert, rules of etiquette demand silent immersion in the music - no cell phones or texting of course, no talking, and a limited array of acceptable responses to the performance.
Economics Professor Andreas Wagener, who specializes in social policy at Leibniz University of Hannover in Hannover, Germany, reviews the research and outlines six motives for why there’s more than the usual amount of coughing during classical concerts.
Professor Wagener is the author of Why Do People (Not) Cough in Concerts?The Economics of Concert Etiquette - published by the Association for Cultural Economics International.