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From Bernstein to Yannick, What Is No. 1 to Musical America?

A thriving classical music world involves not only composers and performers, but those who listen, and those who manage, connect, and promote the artists and the art form. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on Musical America, a publication that has been celebrating and connecting classical musicians since 1898:

Radio script: 

MUSIC: Mahler Symphony No. 2, Leonard Bernstein, the New York Philharmonic. 

Susan Lewis: In 1961, Leonard Bernstein was the first honoree on the cover of Musical America as “Musician of the Year”–not long after the premiere of West Side Story, the first televised Young People’s Concerts, and a celebration of Mahler’s centennial with Bernstein as music director of the New York Philharmonic.

Sedgwick Clark:   No one was more important than Leonard Bernstein.

SL: Sedgwick Clark is editor of what is now the International Directory of the Performing Arts. What started in 1898 as a weekly newspaper for music and the arts evolved. 1961 marked the beginning of today’s format—what owner Stephanie Challener says is a comprehensive directory with multiple genres.

Stephanie Challener: Jazz, World Music, Latin Music, anybody who presents in a concert format... orchestras, opera companies, festivals, competitions...

SL:  The annual awards highlight composers, musicians, and others making a difference in the music world. The 2016 Artist of the Year? Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

MUSIC: Sibelius, Symphony No. 5, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Sedgwick Clark: He’s an extraordinary musician, he is exciting, the audiences love him, and the orchestra adores him. He has contact with people.

Stephanie Challener: I definitely want somebody who gives back. That is my number one criterion.

SL: Other 2016 honorees include composer Tod Machover, violinist Jennifer Koh, tenor Mark Padmore, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Celebrating excellence, encouraging innovation and connections—Musical America’s annual issue is distributed to organizations all over the world.

Learn more about how Musical America came to be and how it selects people to honor each year. Editor Sedgwick Clark and owner/publisher Stephanie Challener talk with WRTI's Susan Lewis.

Sunday at 1 pm on March 23, 2016, Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Mahler’s 8th Symphony in a live Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast on WRTI from the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall in Philadelphia.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.