Credit: Art Streiber

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI: Tchaikovsky and Tilson Thomas

In a first-ever Philadelphia Orchestra performance of a work by composer-conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, this week's Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast on WRTI 90.1 will feature his Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind . Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1 pm, and Monday night, Sept. 24 at 7 pm on HD-2.

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A bestiary in the Middle Ages was a book of illustrations of animals, each accompanied by a moral lesson.   Sir James MacMillan’s musical bestiary for organ and orchestra is informed by his Scottish background, different musical traditions, and a sharp sense of social satire. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

When it comes to batons, one size does NOT fit all. Length, material, and handle are all a matter of individual preference.  Want to know what the professionals look for?  Here are ten facts about the tool that quickly fades into the musical landscape shaped by the person commanding it.

We lost Michael Stairs, longtime organist of The Philadelphia Orchestra, on August 11, 2018. Over the years, he played many of the region's famous organs, including those at the Wanamaker Grand Court, at Longwood Gardens, and the Fred J. Cooper Memorial organ at Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center. Riccardo Muti appointed him organist at The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1985.

Youthful exuberance filled the WRTI performance studio when three young Steinway Junior Piano Competition winners performed.  Host Kevin Gordon welcomed pianists Michelle Wang, Anwen Deng, and Elizabeth Yang, in the third of our special live concert broadcasts with the winners of this inaugural Steinway competition.

Listen to an exciting live performance by the three finalists of the 2018 Philadelphia Young Pianists Academy International Piano Competition. The competition is in its second year and has brought talented young artists to Philadelphia from all over the world. Join host Kevin Gordon as he welcomes PYPA founder Ching-Yun Hu and these three wonderful pianists.


If you love the music of J.S. Bach, listen to his Brandenburg Concertos in a way you’ve never heard before. Pianist Eleonor Bindman, praised by The New York Times for her “impressive clarity of purpose and a full grasp of the music’s spirit,” performs selections from her impressive piano 4-hand arrangement of the Brandenburg Concertos with host Debra Lew Harder. 

Daryn Stumbaugh

Three years after the great success of his 1798 work The Creation, Joseph Haydn premiered another large oratorio, this time celebrating nature throughout the year. While not often performed today, The Seasons is still a tour de force with an enthusiastic following. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

August 13, 2018.  On their new album, Israeli-American cellist Inbal Segev and Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen combine their artistry in three ultra-Romantic works. Released this summer, Chopin, Schumann and Grieg features their interpretation of sonatas by Chopin and Grieg, and Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 73.

August 13, 2018. The title Electric Miles suggests you’ll hear instruments plugged into outlets. But when saxophonist, flutist and arranger Charles Pillow wrote the charts for his Electric Miles album, he only allowed for some electric piano and electric bass.  The rest of the magic comes from the force of his large ensemble. Batteries not included.

August 6, 2018.  Our album of the week explores the pleasures and comforts of home through the beauty of the harp played by Elizabeth Hainen, principal harp of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Released in 2017, her album Home gives listeners an intimate taste of wide-ranging repertoire, from Couperin to Sting—music she turns to when she’s playing at home.

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WRTI Arts Desk

September 24, 2018. Ever since Leonard Bernstein introduced him to televeision audiences as a 7-year-old prodigy, cellist Yo-Yo Ma has captured the public’s imagination over a 50-plus year career. From concert stage appearances, to Sesame Street, to American Presidential inaugurations, Yo-Yo Ma is a shining presence everywhere. Our album of the week showcases why.

A melody in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony was made famous to fans of Eric Carmen’s pop tune “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.” But in the symphony, that melody leads to one of the most beautiful, and difficult, clarinet solos in the literature. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has the story.

Peter Ralston

If you think of Andrew Wyeth primarily as a realist landscape painter who bucked the trends of the mid 20th-century art world, get ready to meet the artist anew.  The documentary film WYETH sheds new light on his life and art, through conversations with the people he knew as family, neighbors and subjects, and archival interviews with the artist himself. 

By Office of Emergency Management [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

America was celebrating its bicentennial when Michael Tilson Thomas first became intrigued by a Carl Sandburg poem. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, nearly 40 years later,  he premiered his musical setting of  Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind with a cautionary message still relevant today.


Jordan August/Mann Center for the Performing Arts

It's football season! We're excited to watch the plays on the field from the snaps to the passes to the touchdowns. Football also means music. WRTI's Susan Lewis went to NFL Films in Mount Laurel, NJ to get the scoop about how football films use the rich sound of orchestral music to help tell their stories.

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