Arts Desk

Check out stories by WRTI arts reporters Susan Lewis,  Debra Lew Harder, and Maureen Malloy. Arts Desk and Arts News Submission Guidelines

Wikipedia Commons

In the early 20th century, Leopold Stokowski was transforming The Philadelphia Orchestra into a major force in classical music, while roughly 6 ½ miles away in the nearby suburbs, Albert Barnes was amassing his now world-famous art collection.

While a classical concerto most commonly features one soloist, Béla Bartók’s concerto for orchestra highlights many sections of the ensemble. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, it became one of Bartók’s most popular works.

It’s rare that avant-garde music gets time in the spotlight these days. WRTI’s Maureen Malloy gives you some history on the free jazz movement, and a glimpse into its future. Check out the October Revolution of Jazz and Contemporary Music organized by Ars Nova Workshop and Fringe Arts, from October 4th to 7th.

Johannes Plennio/Unsplash

It was the summer of 1934. At his villa in Switzerland near Lake Lucerne, Sergei Rachmaninoff wrote his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 comprised of 24 variations. The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, premiered the work in November, 1934 with Rachmaninoff himself as soloist in Baltimore. It was an immediate success.

Skillful young athletes might get their career bearings on a pro team, but what’s the equivalent for promising artists in the classical music world? One organization has mentored some of the best in the field, including guitarist Jason Vieaux, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, flutist Mimi Stillman, soprano Angela Meade, and the string trio Time For Three.

In its new CD, Grammy-winning choir The Crossing sings Lansing McLoskey's oratorio, Zealot Canticles. WRTI's Susan Lewis talks with The Crossing's conductor Donald Nally about the poetry, choral writing, and social issues that converge in this work.

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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