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!

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.

Wikipedia Commons

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.

Chris Lee/Philadelphia Orchestra

Yannick Nézet-Séguin loves Mahler's Symphony No.5 for many reasons. One is that it's a work that epitomizes everything that orchestral music can be. 

Congratulations to composer Kile Smith and The Crossing! The Philadelphia-based choir's 2019 recording of Kile's The Arc in the Sky is up for a 2020 GRAMMY award for Best Choral Performance. Kile and Donald Nally, conductor of The Crossing, visited WRTI soon after the album's release in July of 2019 to share insights about this artistic collaboration.

Posthumus painting by Barbara Krafft in 1819/ Wikipedia Commons

Mozart played both violin and viola, and wrote his Sinfonia Concertante for those two instruments in 1779  after a trip to Paris and Mannheim, where the form was popular.  

Born in Shanghai in 1990, pianist Haochen Zhang won the Van Cliburn Competition in 2009, which launched his career. He went on to win an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2017, and today he's an international star, receiving kudos from media outlets around the globe. “Such a combination of enchanting, sensitive lyricism and hypnotizing forcefulness is a phenomenon encountered very rarely," says The Jerusalem Post. Two of his favorite things: Rachmaninoff and Philadelphia.

Sophie Gengembre Anderson/ Wikimedia Commons

Repulsed by the brutality against women in the story, A Thousand and One Nights, composer John Adams created a dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra where the solo violin represents a modern, young woman who stands up to her oppressors. WRTI's Susan Lewis has more on Scheherazade.2.

November 4, 2019. Fans of The Philadelphia Orchestra know Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances as an orchestral work; it was the Russian master’s final composition, written for our own fabulous Philadelphians. But pianists are especially drawn to the Symphonic Dances in Rachmaninoff’s own arrangement for two pianos.

Tim Photoguy/Unsplash

Antonin Dvorak wrote his Symphony No. 9, "From the New World," soon after arriving in America in 1893.  A yearning melody from the second movement took on a new life as a popular American song that continues to be reinvented. 

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