Music Features

Now Is the Time
12:50 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Dead Man Walking

Masks are worn and removed on Now Is the Time, Saturday, September 13th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. The flutist and composer Katherine Hoover has greatly expanded the literature for her instrument with genial yet focused music. Masks, for flute and piano, includes the movements Haida Indian mask, Huichol Jaguar mask, Afro-American Death mask, and Clown mask. It succeeds in being charming and self-effacing at the same time.

The mask worn by murderer Joseph De Rocher slowly slips as Sister Helen Prejean visits, counsels, and shows love to him in Dead Man Walking, Jake Heggie's opera from just a few years ago. We have time for excerpts from both acts, including the riveting ending, with his confession and the echo of a gospel song. Joyce DiDonato, Philip Cutlip, and Frederica von Stade head the cast.

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Crossover
8:42 am
Sat September 6, 2014

Violinist Nicola Benedetti: Coming Home to Scotland

Violinist Nicola Benedetti's new CD is filled with music from her homeland.

One of our favorite guests - and one of yours, as you've told us - returns to Crossover this week. Violinist Nicola Benedetti discusses her latest Decca CD, Homecoming: A Scottish Fantasy.  

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
5:42 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Philadelphia Premieres: Four Composers, Three Countries

Miranda—The Tempest (1916), John William Waterhouse

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday September 6th, 5-6 pm...We continue to admire the scope of the Fleisher Collection, with a look at four more works premiered in Philadelphia by the Symphony Club, founded in 1909 by Edwin A. Fleisher. He had traveled throughout Europe to collect all the orchestral scores and parts possible to obtain for his collection, now housed in the Free Library of Philadelphia. A trip for us through three countries provides a good taste.

Anatol Lyadov from Russia and Ernest Chausson from France were both born in 1855 and the works we’ll hear today were composed within a year of each other. In the Ballade (From Olden Times), which Lyadov composed originally for solo piano, he addressed what many other composers were addressing in Russia: music that was specifically, undeniably Russian. Nationalism can have a negative connotation, but the impulse is innocence itself, being the search for your own origin. In music this translates into the search for a folk language unsullied by commercialism and unaffected by outside influences. This going back to go forward, this building of a musical personality on a foundation in your own soil, is musical nationalism, and is heard to warm effect in Lyadov. He orchestrated the Ballade in 1906.

There’s no denying the Frenchness of Chausson, yet he turned for inspiration to that most English of authors—and ironically, the most international—Shakespeare. We’ve looked at The Bard in the Fleisher Collection through Hamlet, Falstaff, Macbeth, and others; this time it’s Chausson’s incidental music Two Dances from The Tempest.

Staying in France but turning to Gabriel Pierné, we find an unexpected connection. There is not a lot of Pierné orchestral music, so this is a good opportunity to meet him through Ramuntcho, also composed for a play. It is filled with the exotic sounds of the Basque region as the smuggler Ramuntcho, in between forays into Spain, loves, and loses, Gracieuse. The play was a success in large part because of Pierné’s music.

He was also a widely regarded organist, being César Franck’s student and successor at the Saint Clotilde Basilica in Paris. As a conductor he led the premiere of Stravinsky’s groundbreaking Firebird ballet. So what is the surprise? Stravinsky's composing job had earlier been offered to, and turned down by, Anatol Lyadov.

We’ll end this journey with our own excursion into Spain, and Joaquín Turina’s Danzas Fantasticas. As Lyadov and many other composers have done, Turina wrote this work first for piano, and orchestrated it later. He lived in Paris himself for a while, studying with Vincent d’Indy and getting to know Debussy and Ravel. Back in Spain, he composed among other works these dances, operas, and music for guitarist Andrés Segovia.

The sound of Spain is as marked in Turina as is France’s and Russia’s in our other composers today. Edwin Fleisher reveled in collecting as much orchestral music from as many countries as he could, and it would be at his Symphony Club concerts that these works were first heard in Philadelphia.

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Now Is the Time
3:23 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Labor Day Weekend on Now Is the Time

Maybe this weekend you're traveling with Now Is the Time, Saturday, August 30th at 9 pm. We start with City Columns for orchestra by Shawn Crouch, and then go way, way out with Michael Daugherty's percussion concerto UFO. Evelyn Glennie solos, sometimes on unidentified pieces of metal, in the work that's all about Roswell and Area 51 and improvising in front of a large wind ensemble.

It's also the time of year for going back to school, and Matthew McCabe remembers his first music teacher in Everything Must Be Beautiful. The homage uses her voice, together with electronically processed sounds, in glorious, retro, two-channel tape. Whether you're here or far, far away (we stream online!), and whether you study, teach, work, or rest, have a great weekend!

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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert
3:54 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI: Helene Grimaud Plays Brahms, August 31 at 1 PM

Pianist Helene Grimaud

This Sunday afternoon it's a concert from last December at Verizon Hall, with guest conductor Michael Tilson Thomas  and pianist Hélène Grimaud in a performance with The Philadelphia Orchestra featuring the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, and the Symphonie fantastique of Hector Berlioz. The concert had been performed only days earlier at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the reviews were sensational.

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Now Is the Time
10:46 am
Fri August 22, 2014

String Circle

All kinds of strings are circling on Now Is the Time, Saturday, August 23rd at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet starts off with Daniel Bernard Roumain's homage to places he's lived and loved. Ghetto Strings visits Harlem, Liberty City in South Florida, the Motor City, and the land of his parents, Haiti. Ethel is the string quartet playing String Circle 1 by Kenji Bunch, who, since he's also an accomplished violist, knows his way around strings.

But we go to Phillip Rhodes for a solo viola dance suite, and inspired by Bach. It's the Partita, from 1977. Full circle is how we'll finish the show, with guitars, but this time two of them, the wonderful Anderson-Fader Duo. From their CD Le Cirque is Fantasy on 12 Strings by Martin Rokeach.

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Crossover
12:03 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Pianist Mirian Conti: Remembering Argentina

The Argentinian-American pianist Mirian Conti released her second album on the Steinway & Sons label in 2012. Nostalgias Argentinas is a statement...one that has been the subject of many books, plays, and theses.

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Crossover
5:03 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Michael Stairs: The Organist's Organist

Organist Michael Stairs

When Michael Stairs sits at an organ keyboard, the result is nothing but perfection. He is indeed the organist's organist. Michael has been organist for The Philadelphia Orchestra since his appointment by Riccardo Muti in 1985. He taught at The Haverford School for 25 years and was beloved by his students. A graduate of Westminster Choir College, he also holds an Artist's Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music.

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Crossover
7:36 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

The Sensational Serafin String Quartet

Serafin String Quartet includes Esme Allen-Creighton, Lawrence Stomberg, Lisa Vaupel, and Kate Ransom.

This week on Crossover it's a re-broadcast from 2013. Our guests are the musicians of the Serafin String Quartet. Renown worldwide for their excellent music making and lively, infectious performances, the quartet is in residence at the University of Delaware's College of Arts and Sciences. 

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Now Is the Time
5:59 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Secondary Impressions

They come in twos on Now Is the Time, Saturday, August 9th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Joan Tower responded to Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man with numerous Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman; we'll hear No. 2. Eric McIntyre doubles down on impressionism with Secondary Impressions for saxophone and piano, and Kronos performs the Quartet No. 2 of Philip Glass.

William Hawley's Two Motets on Roman poets, sung by Volti, separates the last two instrumental works, the Four Fanfares for Two Trumpets by Andrew Rindfleisch and John Novacek's Three Rags for Two Pianos.

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