Arts Desk

Throughout the week

Listen to WRTI's Arts Desk features for a daily look into the world of music, arts, and culture. Listen to brief features throughout the day!

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January 13, 2020. At first glance, Whose Heavenly Touch throws no surprises. Here is a comprehensive, predictable set of songs by English composer John Dowland (1563-1626), complete with the most beloved titles — including "Flow, my tears," "Come Again!" and "Come away, sweet love." But wait! With a closer look and listen, some interesting curiosities emerge.


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A dramatic look at the cultural contributions of 20th-century Philadelphia arts champions Albert Barnes and Leopold Stokowski finds remarkable connections, starting with music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, a master from the 16th-century Italian Renaissance.

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Violinist Gil Shaham became enthralled by Beethoven's Violin Concerto as a child. Years later, he's still moved by its power. 

Elliot Mandel

December 23, 2019. Voices ringing out in harmony make the holidays ever so much richer, whether we're listening to familiar Chrismas carols and songs for Hanukkah, sacred music from different traditions, or traditional African-American spirituals. Our album of the week, Holidays a cappella Live has a taste of all of these.

Ben Dashwood

A moving song cycle about love has an equally powerful backstory. Captivated by a collection of Pablo Neruda's love poems, composer Peter Lieberson set five of them to be sung by his wife. In 2005, Lorraine Hunt Leiberson premiered, performed and recorded them, but died the next year. As WRTI's Susan Lewis reports, the song cycle, Neruda Songs, lives on. 

December 16, 2019. This week, we're celebrating Beethoven’s birthday! Although the big birthday, the 250th comes next year, we’re celebrating nonetheless, because 249 is nothing to sneeze at.

Ryan Donnell

Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim, who has played Bruch’s First Violin Concerto as soloist many times, has his own routine to prepare for a performance with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is now known as a classical music giant. But in 1866, he was a young man who had switched careers and was tackling his very first symphony. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on this early work – titled by the composer, Winter Daydreams.


November 18, 2019. American Reflections, our Classical Album of the Week, has humble and typically American beginnings. The St. Charles Singers is a group of vocalists based in St. Charles, Illinois. It has four CDs to its name. The fifth was the result of the enthusiasm of the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, which awarded a $6,500 grant to help pay for the choir’s current album of American choral works.

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