Arts Desk

Throughout the week

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

Leighton Smith /Unsplash

WRTI looks at the origins of this famous ballad, its mysteries, and why it is sung to convey deeply felt emotion and love during times of mourning.

Paul Bergen/Getty Images

March 11th, 2021 marks the centennial of the birth of Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, who took the tango of his youth to new places.  He infused it with elements of classical music and jazz, creating his own distinctive style. 

Emil Rhodes, Family Collection

(First published in 2013). A recent biography reveals what it was like to be the first woman to enter the all-male sanctum of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston discovered the powerful combination of talent and fear.

February 15, 2021. As WRTI celebrates Black History Month, we feature the latest release from pianist William Chapman Nyaho. Born in Ghana, Nyaho compiled and edited five invaluable volumes for Oxford University Press called Piano Music of the African Diaspora. Our Classical Album of the Week is an aural companion to the first two volumes of the set.

February 15, 2021. As a first-generation American and the daughter of a Rwandan father and Ugandan mother, who was raised mostly in Champaign, Illinois and partly in Zambia, the vocalist Somi has long had to navigate multiple worlds and identities at once.

Peter Checchia

In hard times, we inspire. As musicians, that’s one way that our art serves the world.

The legendary Broadway musical writing team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II produced their final show together, The Sound of Music, nine months before Hammerstein passed away of cancer. Yet throughout all the songs of the show, there’s a great sense of hope and optimism.

Jason Fifield

Diane Monroe is a rare gem of a musician whose original compositions and arrangements have garnered accolades from both the classical and jazz worlds, and she continues to bridge the divide. Monroe was recognized in 2018 with both a coveted fellowship and a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, which funded her personal 2019 exploration that joins every part of her musical self: Violin Woman, African Dreams.

Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives

Born in New York City to German-Jewish immigrants, Lorenz Hart penned some of Broadway’s most haunting, sophisticated lyrics. At age 24, he began collaborating with composer Richard Rodgers who was 17 at the time.

Getty Images/Bettmann

It's Black History Month, and on WRTI we're looking closely at bandleader, composer, and pianist Duke Ellington, who wrote over 1,700 songs, as well as longer orchestral suites and film scores. In this interview from 2013, WRTI's Susan Lewis speaks with biographer and blogger Terry Teachout, author of Duke, A Life of Duke Ellington.

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