Arts Desk

Check out stories and album of the week features by Susan Lewis, Debra Lew Harder, Kevin Gordon, Maureen Malloy, Matt Silver, and Bobbi Booker.

Four Philadelphia Orchestra brass players routinely sit together in the back of the orchestra. But for a 2018 work by Jennifer Higdon, they all moved to the front of the stage—as soloists and chamber musicians. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked with the quartet and composer about the surprising sounds we don't often hear from the low brass.


Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives

One November night in the year 1934, a 17-year-old girl was about to take the stage at the Apollo theater’s Amateur Night program and planned to do a dance routine—but changed her mind and decided to sing a song instead. Probably the best decision Ella Jane Fitzgerald ever made, because she won the contest, and shortly thereafter, was introduced to bandleader Chick Webb, who hired her to sing in his band.

Mat Hennek / DG

Unlocking the secrets in music is a joyful enterprise for pianist Helene Grimaud. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on Grimaud’s approach to music and life. On Sunday, May 9th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and Monday May 10th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2, Helene Grimaud performs Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Philadelphia Orchestra.


May 3, 2021. Depending on what you’re most susceptible to, Sachal Vasandani’s Midnight Shelter will either break your heart or rock you to sleep. If you stay with it through all 11 singer-songwriterly tunes, chances are you’ll experience both.

May 3, 2021. The Jasper String Quartet and Jupiter String Quartet combine to express  joyful personal connections in chamber music with pieces composed centuries apart. Felix Mendelssohn’s masterful 1825 Octet in E flat major is joined by contemporary works by Dan Visconti and Osvaldo Golijov in our Classical Album of the Week.

Latin jazz master percussionist Arturo Stable has been in motion his whole life, and working and living all over the world has allowed him to seamlessly shift though a myriad of musical traditions. Whether he’s on stage with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra or lightening up a tight Latin jazz quartet, it’s just another border crossing that demonstrates Stable’s rich cultural knowledge.

Getty Images/Bettmann

We’re celebrating the birth of Edward Kennedy Ellington, better known as the “Duke.”  With drive, charisma, and vision, Ellington became one of the first artists to successfully bridge the worlds between popular and serious music.

April 26, 2021. What a pleasure to introduce you to Thibaut Garcia, the young French guitarist with Spanish heritage who has expressed the beauty in Joaquin Rodrigo's 1939 composition Concierto de Aranjuez with gusto in our Classical Album of the Week. Garcia's connection with his roots can be deeply felt here.

Jessica Griffin

Hollywood may have typecast the bassoon as comedic star, but Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Bassoon Daniel Matsukawa fills us in on the instrument’s great lyrical expressiveness. He is soloist in this week's Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast, playing Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto back in 2017.

Pages