Arts Desk

Throughout the week

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

Among Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s hundreds of compositions are 27 piano concertos.  In 2014, WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with the young pianist Jan Lisiecki about why he is so drawn to their musical purity, emotional complexity, and sense of fun.

January 25th, 2021. Michael Tilson Thomas is artistic director and founder of Miami's New World Symphony, music director laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, and conductor laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. On top of that, he's also a composer. His latest recording with San Francisco Symphony juxtaposes two poignant works; his earliest, From the Diary of Anne Frank, and his latest, Meditations on Rilke.

The Story Behind the Presidential Anthem "Hail To The Chief"

Jan 20, 2021
Getty Images/Brendan SMIALOWSKI /AFP

(Originally published in 2017). Even though it's not a universal favorite among presidents, "Hail to the Chief" remains their official entrance theme. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston has more on the origin of the march that begins with the ultimate in fanfare, not three, but four "Ruffles and Flourishes."  

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.

January 11. 2021. Icelandic pianist Vikingur Ólafsson’s third release for Deutsche Grammophon captivates with every note and poses an intriguing question. What connects two French masters—Claude Debussy and Jean-Philippe Rameau—despite the difference of over a century, the difference of the keyboard instruments they wrote for, and the difference of two contrasting stylistic eras of music?

Jacqueline Smith

Philadelphia composer Kile Smith's many works have been earning him increasing accolades, with recordings and performances around the country and in other parts of the world in the past few years. He's sharing a new virtual piece for choirs during these difficult times, has discovered a love for working outside, and has recently stepped up his game in another form of artistic expression: photography.  

Diego PH/Unsplash

(Originally published in 2016). Even if you’re not familiar with the Broadway musical Carousel, you’re likely to have heard the uplifting message and melody of the song "You’ll Never Walk Alone." Its roots in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical extend far beyond the story of love and loss.

January 4, 2021. Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro in E-flat major, BWV 998, is a musical composition by Johann Sebastian Bach, intended for either lute or harpsichord. But Bach was constantly re-inventing his music for different instruments, and on this disc guitarist Sean Shibe gives us an elegant demonstration of how well-suited this work is to the classical guitar.

December 28, 2020. You may know Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the young cellist who performed at the 2018 royal wedding, but did you know his six siblings also play classical music? In this season of family celebrations and traditions, our Classical Album of the Week is the debut recording of the Kanneh-Masons, ages 11 to 24, playing Saint-Saens's Carnival of the Animals and a new musical setting of Grandpa Christmas, a story by Michael Morpurgo.

December 21, 2020. Let’s face it—holiday music can divide a room faster than Santa’s globe-circling sleigh on Christmas Eve. This is the time of year we set aside our usual debates, about cheesesteaks and such, and find ourselves either relishing in the cozy nostalgia and cheery jingle of holiday music or feeling a bit worn out by it all.

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