The Philadelphia Orchestra on WRTI: Yannick, Hélène Grimaud, Dvorak's New World Symphony, and More!

May 1, 2020

Join us on Sunday, May 3rd at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, May 4th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2 to hear a rebroadcast of the first subscription concert of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2019/2020 season, the Orchestra’s 120th.

The three works on the program all have roots here in America: the world premiere of a Philadelphia commission, Umoja, a colorful orchestral work by American composer Valerie Coleman; then pianist Hélène Grimaud performs Bela Bartok’s Third Piano Concerto, a work he nearly completed after fleeing his native Hungary for America; and, after intermission, Antonin Dvořák’s great Ninth Symphony, “From the New World.”

Valerie Coleman’s Umoja, Anthem for Unity, was originally a simple song arranged for women’s choir, which Ms. Coleman later arranged for her Imani Winds ensemble, (she herself is a flutist), and finally she turned it into the brilliant orchestral piece we’ll hear Sunday.

Hélène Grimaud made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2000 and has enjoyed many collaborations with her good friend Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and she returns for this season-opening concert to perform a concerto whose last measures were unfinished at Bartok's passing. It was actually former Philadelphia Orchestra violist Tibor Serly who orchestrated those final measures of the Piano Concerto No. 3, and the Philadelphia Orchestra gave the work its world premiere in 1946, with Eugene Ormandy conducting, and György Sándor as soloist.

To conclude the concert, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, which was the first in a series of important works Dvořák wrote while in America. And although the composer called upon American musical resources for his "New World" Symphony—spirituals he had heard sung by an African-American student at the National Conservatory, and Native American music, for example—he didn’t actually use any of those melodies, instead composing original themes embodying the local idioms.

In fact, as formally constructed, the “New World” Symphony calls on a Germanic heritage drawn both from the symphonies of Brahms and the symphonic poems of Liszt, while bathed in a Czech spiritual glow.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Credit Chris Lee

During intermission, Debra Lew Harder visits with Hélène Grimaud backstage, and Susan Lewis speaks with Yannick Nézét-Séguin.

That’s Sunday, May 3rd, from 1 to 3 PM, on WRTI 90.1 and streaming worldwide at! Listen again on Monday, May 4th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.

This broadcast kicked off WRTI's 8th season bringing you The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert.


Valerie Coleman: Umoja, Anthem for Unity

Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 3

Hélène Grimaud, piano


Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E-Minor (“From the New World”)

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézét-Séguin, conductor

Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts on WRTI 90.1 FM in Philadelphia and streaming online at, every Sunday from 1 to 3 pm, and re-broadcast Monday nights at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2.

And now until June, 2020: Listen to a weekly schedule of re-broadcasts of additional archival Philadelphia Orchestra concerts. Each program airs Thursday at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2 and streaming online, and again on Friday at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, and our classical stream.