Arts Desk

Throughout the week

Listen to WRTI's Arts Desk features for a daily look into music in the Philadelphia region.

Kelly and Massa

Although the COVID-19 shutdown has cancelled live performances, Opera Philadelphia has reinvented its 2020 season with a new subscription channel that uses a filmmaker's approach to opera's powerful music and theater. General Director and President David Devan talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about the new Opera Philadelphia Channel.

Getty Images/ Silver Screen Collection

When composer Bernard Herrmann made the move from New York to Hollywood in 1951 to score the film, The Day The Earth Stood Still, he already had a taste of what an alien invasion could sound like; in 1938 he had conducted the live music for Orson Welles’ infamous Halloween radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds.

What is multiple Grammy-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin's response to everyone wearing masks to stay healthy?  "Welcome to my world!" she says. "I’ve been wearing an N95 mask for almost 20 years on every single airplane flight, and since doing that, I've never gotten sick from flying."

October 19, 2020. Songs can entertain and touch us with emotions, from happiness to humor to heartbreak. The Contrast, a new release by soprano Carolyn Sampson and pianist Joseph Middleton, celebrates the range of works by five English composers writing over the last 120 years. 

Courtesy of the artist

When it comes to the tradition of innovative Philadelphia tenor saxophonist-composers, Odean Pope is heavenly high atop that list.

October 12, 2020. The clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, winner of a dozen Grammy awards, has nothing but superlatives for Wayne Marshall, chief conductor of the WDR Funkhausorchester in Cologne. D’Rivera’s contribution to Born to Play—Marshall’s swan song after a decade with the orchestra—complements the main course, works by George Gershwin.

Charles Boudreau

(First published in January, 2020.) One of today’s most wide-ranging composers, Vivian Fung’s inspirations range from ancient gamelon music to ideas for preparing pot roast (for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, no less!)

Dave Brubeck's Secret Revealed

Oct 12, 2020

December 6th is Dave Brubeck’s birthday, and WRTI’s Kile Smith looks at the secret behind the legacy of this giant of jazz. Along with leading his Quartet for decades, 1959’s Time Out was the first jazz album to sell a million copies, and from that, Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” was not only their biggest hit, it is still the biggest jazz single in history. But what about Dave Brubeck’s playing?


WRTI's Friday Choral Connection with host Debra Lew Harder presented something different and very special on Friday, October 9th. Choral Arts Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Bach Collegium, and composer/guitar and vocals soloist Andrew Lipke were featured in a performance of  "Hosanna" from Lipke's The Plague. Here's the story behind the music.

John Abbott

Pianist Orrin Evans likes to refer to his extended music family as “The Village.” It’s an inviting and inclusive term that encompasses not only his ever-growing list of collaborators but his mentors and protégés, fans and friends, inspirations and supporters.

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