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WRTI Spotlight

The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI: Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conducts American Masters

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Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Orchestra
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Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra in October, 2021.

Join us on Sunday, January 16th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, and Monday, January 17th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2 when our Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast brings you “American Masters,” the first subscription concert of the Orchestra’s 2021/2022 season, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and recorded live in in October.

The Orchestra’s season has traditionally begun with a rendition of the American national anthem. This season begins with an innovative twist—"Lift Every Voice and Sing," known as the Black National Anthem, launches the concert broadcast in a moving performance by Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Laurin Talese and the Orchestra. With its surging melody and rallying cry of hope and freedom, the song has become firmly established in Black communities since it was first penned in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson and Rosamond Johnson for a school choir to sing in celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

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Laurin Talese talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and her own path as a singer.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” launches a program with the theme “American Masters,” featuring works by George Gershwin, Florence Price, and William Grant Still. Pianist Aaron Diehl is the soloist in the iconic Rhapsody in Blue, which created a sensation at its 1924 premiere, when it was presented in a classical concert hall by a jazz orchestra directed by popular bandleader Paul Whiteman. This classic melds classical traditions and orchestration with the Tin Pan Alley songwriting world in which Gershwin had been making his living.

Aaron Diehl is also featured alongside Philadelphia Orchestra principal flute Jeffrey Khaner in William Grant Still’s brief, poignant Out of the Silence, a work scored for piano, flute, and strings.

Florence Price’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor completes the concert. Written in 1945, this work was never performed in Price’s lifetime. The score was among hundreds of Price manuscripts that surfaced in 2009 in the composer’s abandoned summer home, more than 50 years after her death. Since its discovery, it has taken its place among the major American symphonies of the 20th century.

Listen for interviews interspersed throughout the broadcast. Producer Susan Lewis speaks with Yannick and guest vocalist Laurin Talese. And we’ll take a pause to enjoy chamber music by Harry Thacker Burleigh played in 2020 by members of the Orchestra at the Marian Anderson House and Museum in Philadelphia. After the concert, we sample a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major from the Orchestra’s opening week.

PROGRAM:

Johnson and Johnson: “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
Talese: “This Love”
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Still: Out of the Silence
Burleigh: Southland Sketch No. 1
Price: Symphony No. 4 in D minor
Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Laurin Talese, vocalist
Aaron Diehl, piano

Read detailed program notes from the concert here.

Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your favorite smart speaker. Listen again on Mondays at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast on WRTI Replay.