Creatively Speaking

Creatively Speaking
8:48 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

All About Jennifer Higdon: A Classical Composer For Philadelphia And Beyond

Composer Jennifer Higdon with Beau.

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.  


Creatively Speaking
8:45 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

Temple University Ensemble Debuts New Work

Composer Michael Daugherty

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.


Creatively Speaking
2:16 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Hummel's Trumpet Concerto: A Celebration of the Instrument

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.

Creatively Speaking
1:04 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Francesca da Rimini Revived At The Met

 

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.

Creatively Speaking
5:24 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Mandy Patinkin and Intercultural Journeys: Promoting Cross-Cultural Understanding

Mandy Patinkin

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.


Creatively Speaking
6:03 am
Mon March 11, 2013

The Nearly Lost Generation Of Great Pianists From The Era of Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn on "What's My Line" in 1964

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.

Creatively Speaking
6:02 am
Mon March 11, 2013

PA Ballet Makes Itself At Home

Principal Dancer Arantxa Ochoa and Former Company Member Maximilien Baud in A Midsummer Night's Dream, choreography by George Balanchine
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.


Where Music Lives
6:02 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Where Music Lives: At the Collingswood Senior Community Center in Camden County

Sax player Bob Pollitt

Music lives in South Jersey, where WRTI's Meridee Duddleston finds jazz creating connections in the neighborhood. The “Jazz Bridge" project deepens the region’s rich jazz roots with a series of neighborhood concerts featuring the area’s great jazz musicians. At the same time, the concerts enable the non-profit Jazz Bridge to provide emergency financial support to local jazz musicians in crisis. It’s a win-win. 

The concerts, at five sites in the Philadelphia area, tackle an all-too-common problem for jazz musicians and bring live jazz to close to home.

Meridee Duddleston attended a "First Thursday"concert at the Collingswood Senior Community Center to see how it works. The evening featured the distinguished Bob Pollitt Jazz Quartet: Bob Pollitt on saxophone, Henry Miller on drums, Craig Thomas on bass. and Bill Schilling on piano.  


Creatively Speaking
6:38 am
Fri March 8, 2013

One Woman In A Hundred: Harpist Edna Phillips And The Philadelphia Orchestra

Edna at the harp
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. 




Creatively Speaking
2:47 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

The New, New Young Piano Stars

Niu Niu is the nickname for Zhang Sheng Liang, the young Chinese pianist who is on the rise.

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.

Pages