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Debra Lew Harder

Classical Host, Producer

Debra's last day on the air at WRTI was September 21st, 2021. She's now the radio host for The Metropolitan Opera. Read more here.

Debra Lew Harder is host of Midday Classics and creator, producer and host of Saturday Morning Classical Coffeehouse on WRTI 90.1. With her lifelong experience as a concert pianist and communicator, she brings a deep understanding of music to the airwaves. And with doctorates in both medicine and music, Debra believes in the power of music to heal.

In addition to connecting with listeners during her daily radio shows, Debra loves to find out what makes musicians tick. An insightful interviewer, Debra can be heard on WRTI’s weekly Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, helping listeners get to know renowned artists such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Hélène Grimaud, Andre Watts, Daniil Trifonov, Susan Graham, Jane Glover, Yuja Wang, Stéphane Denève, Yefim Bronfman, David Kim, and many more.

As a performer herself, Debra brings out the best in artists, hosting, and often accompanying, their live radio and video-streaming performances for WRTI, with musicians and ensembles such as the Daedalus Quartet, Grammy-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux, the Ahn Trio, violinist and composer Mark O’Connor, harpist Elizabeth Hainen, lutenist Ronn McFarlane, and the DePue Brothers Band.

Debra is WRTI’s community voice for the WRTI/Astral Artist Annual Block Party and Astral Winner’s Concert. She’s emceed live concerts for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Lyra Society, and the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society, and is a popular guest lecturer/performer for the Rittenhouse Square Committee of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Performing with stellar artists in the community continues to be a passion of Debra’s, including as piano soloist with The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra at Verizon Hall, and many other orchestras in the area, and in chamber music recitals with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and with her piano trio. Her Music and Conversation recital series explores fascinating scientific and societal questions, tied together through great works from the piano literature. Debra’s recorded discography is out on the Albany and MSR labels and her own independent label.

A devoted educator, Debra is currently co-director of the Medicine + Music program at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. For many years, she was on the music teaching faculty of Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College.
Debra’s commitment to the arts community includes service on the Presser Foundation’s Advancement of Music Committee, the William Appling Singers and Orchestra, and recent board service for the Philadelphia Museum of Art East Asian Committee, Tri-County Concerts Association, and Astral Artists.

Hear Debra Tuesdays through Fridays for Classical Weekdays, 10 AM to 2 PM, and on Saturday Morning Classical Coffeehouse, 6 AM to noon. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @debra.l.harder.