Arts Desk

Throughout the week

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

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Bach's Mass in B minor is a testament to a lifetime of work by the "King of Baroque"—but the masterpiece is not a typical Mass in scope or compositional history.

June 22, 2020. Just 27 years old, Italian pianist Beatrice Rana has released three major-label albums of diverse repertoire, from powerhouse concerti to the Goldberg Variations of J.S. Bach. Our Classical Album of the Week represents Rana’s third album, released in 2019 from Warner. It shows the blistering technique and refined sense of color that won her the Silver Medal in the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition.

Professional trumpet player, educator, advocate, and arts leader Stanford Thompson is founder and executive director of Play On, Philly, which teaches hundreds of children in underserved communities to play classical music in orchestral settings.

Courtesy of Jeri Lynne Johnson

In 2008, African-American conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson founded Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble of classically trained musicians from diverse cultures and ethnicities as a model for the 21st century. She shared with WRTI's Susan Lewis her thoughts about the possibilities for change in classical music culture.


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Violinist Gil Shaham became enthralled by Beethoven's Violin Concerto as a child. Years later, he's still moved by its power. 

Valerie Coleman has written works for The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Library of Congress, and a host of other organizations and ensembles, including the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds, of which she is the founder and former flutist. She talked with WRTI's Susan Lewis about writing music in today's difficult times. 

June 8, 2020. Since J.S. Bach’s time to the present, musicians have been irresistibly drawn to transcribing and arranging works that others have written. In our Classical Album of the Week, pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov transcribes works by his fellow Russian composers with deep understanding, and an unabashedly Romantic style.

Ben Dashwood

A moving song cycle about love has an equally powerful backstory. Captivated by a collection of Pablo Neruda's love poems, composer Peter Lieberson set five of them to be sung by his wife. In 2005, Lorraine Hunt Leiberson premiered, performed and recorded them, but died the next year. As WRTI's Susan Lewis reports, the song cycle, Neruda Songs, lives on. 

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.

June 1, 2020. Complices is the title of our Classical Album of the Week, and for the non-Francophiles among us, that translates to "accomplices" or "partners." So, you may be wondering—who are these accomplices? Everybody I asked about this assumed what I did—that it must refer to the two featured artists themselves, cellist Jean Guihen Queyras and his collaborator, pianist Alexandre Tharaud.

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