It has to be 30 years ago now; I was sitting in a cafe with other Philadelphia composers and a fellow in town from Minneapolis, who was advising us on a composer organization start-up. He was already well-known in composer circles as the one who, with Libby Larsen, began in Minnesota what became the largest composer service organization in the world, the American Composers Forum.
His name was Stephen Paulus. He died at age 65 on Sunday, October 19th. He had suffered a debilitating stroke on July 4th, 2013, saddening musicians and audiences everywhere. Now we mourn.
At that table, his enthusiasm and positive energy were contagious, but I remember most of all his kindness. His music reflects that, too. A few months ago I programmed a short work, his Prelude No. 3 for piano, on WRTI's contemporary American music program Now Is the Time. "Sprightly" is Paulus's subtitle, and it encapsulates what I always hear in his music, be it choral, orchestral, operatic, any of his more than 500 works: simplicity, even with complicated materials, and melodic openness.
David Ludwig is acutely aware of the importance of legacy. Born into a long line of celebrated figures in classical music, Ludwig is just the latest member of his immediate family to attend, and then become, a faculty member at the Curtis Institute of Music.
His grandfather and great-grandfather stand out in history as some of the foremost performers of their time on piano and violin, respectively. But more than just fame and talent, Ludwig’s lineage instilled him with a commitment to both moral and artistic integrity.
Once upon a time, in the world of classical music, there lived the "Big Five." The term was used to lump together the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and our own Philadelphia Orchestra as the finest performing orchestras in the U.S.
But, over time, as other orchestras gained stature, both in performance and finances, the term became passe and no longer indicative of the American orchestral scene.
On Sunday, October 19th at 5 pm, Philadelphia Music Makers on WRTI is hosted by Harvard- and Curtis-educated pianist George Fu.
George has never suffered from a lack of ambition. At the age of three, he was so enamored with an electric piano that he attempted to hoist it home from a yard sale by himself, prompting his parents - both scientists - to enroll him in lessons.
Crossover takes its annual look at the Walnut Street Theatre's new season. Beginning its 206th season as the oldest theater company in the English-speaking world, the Walnut has always represented the best of Broadway in Philadelphia, but with a twist.
It's one voice among all on Now Is the Time, Saturday, October 11th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Two concertos—the ultimate one vs. many format—bookend a lone flute on this week's program. Meditation and Caprice are the two movements of the engaging, mesmerizing Violin Concerto by Kevin Puts.
Robert Baksa's Soliloquy from 1997, and from a CD of his flute music, is subtitled "Krishna's Song," as the Hindu deity is often pictured playing the flute. The energetic and moody Clarinet Concerto of Paul Moravec features soloist David Krakauer. Moravec wrote this while he was in residence at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton.
First they were students at AVA. During their studies, they were companions. Eventually they performed together on stage. Then came love, and later, the altar. All because of opera. And we can say, "We knew them when."
Classical covers pop on Now Is the Time, Saturday, October 4th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Cellist Maya Beiser's new CD Uncovered ranges over the landscape of hits with aggressive yet nuanced playing. The arrangements are by composer Evan Ziporyn; Led Zeppelin's Kashmir and Nirvana's Lithium get a workout here. Michael Daugherty brings a high-powered wind band to the house for Motown Metal.
The string quartet has its say in two works. Paul Schoenfeld imagined, in Four Music Videos, what MTV was all about, having admitted he'd never watched it, and creates magic. Jeremy Cohen's arrangement of Duke Ellington's The Mooche for his Quartet San Francisco makes you feel that the Duke wrote this just for them. Those slinky chords are so etched in our minds, all composers must wish they'd thought of them first.
A museum tour is not something you'd think would translate well on radio...but it always winds up being an audience favorite on Crossover. It must be the theater-of-the-mind element of the broadcast. And the subject usually relates to theater and the performing arts.