Arts Desk

Throughout the week

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

Rusty Russell

Trumpet great Randy Brecker is a legendarily prolific voice across the worlds of jazz, rock, pop, and R&B. He became a pioneer of jazz-rock fusion with Blood, Sweat & Tears, then with his late brother, saxophonist Michael Brecker, in Dreams and their own Brecker Brothers Band. At the same time he recorded countless sessions with superstars like Steely Dan, James Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa and many others.

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. 

We’ve been waiting for this one! For his new DG release, star pianist Lang Lang has tackled a major work by J.S. Bach for the first time. Yes, he has recorded short samples for a few collections, but never anything like Bach’s iconic Goldberg Variations.

While it's not easy to find duets for two tenors, Lawrence Brownlee and Michael Spyres uncovered a number of them in seven early 19th-century Rossini operas. After a video of their encore duet in 2018 at The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam went viral, they put together a groundbreaking album, Amici e Rivali, which collects over a dozen duets and trios and shines a light on the genius of Gioachino Rossini. 

Courtesy of Peter Dugan

Pianist Peter Dugan was a teenager living in Upper Darby, when, in 2006, he was chosen to perform on From the Top, NPR's nationally syndicated radio program that "showcases the music, stories, and unique humor of America's best young classical musicians."  Now he's the host of the popular program, which is broadcast on over 200 stations across the country, including WRTI.

November 3, 2020. Knowing how much you love the music of Antonio Vivaldi, an all-Vivaldi Classical Album of the Week would seem a natural! And since the gifted Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst’s new disc, Vivaldi, from Sony Classical has him playing a handful of Vivaldi “clarinet concertos,” my interest was piqued.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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