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.

There are very few tuba concertos in the classical repertoire - Ralph Vaughn Williams' 1954 work is among a handful. But in his work, Reflections on the Missippi, composer Michael Daugherty explores the largely untapped lyricism of the instrument.   

August 2, 2021. In addition to being a supremely talented musician, Roni Ben-Hur is a smart man. The veteran guitarist, Israeli born and raised, not only understands how to craft tunes; he understands how to build an album that reflects the essential touchstones of his musicality.

August 2, 2021. Elisabeth Remy Johnson sensed an imbalance: While there were plenty of female harpists playing in prominent symphonies, there seemed to be disproportionately few works composed by women within the “standard” repertory for solo harp. So Remy Johnson, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s principal harpist since 1995, set out to rectify that imbalance.

Piper Ferguson

Composer, musician, and bandleader Wynton Marsalis has won multiple Grammys for jazz and classical recordings, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Music.  The artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center since 1987, he’s also a writer, advocate, and thought leader about issues in American culture.

July 26, 2021. Frankie Valli and the vast catalogue of popular hits he’s produced over six decades are an American treasure. Nobody does nostalgia-with-substance better. Bob Gaudio, who wrote so many of the Four Seasons’ hits, created an aesthetic for which Valli’s distinct alto was the perfect fit; in time those songs became so beloved that Valli’s voice, for all intents and purposes, became the only fit.

Jessica Griffin/Philadelphia Orchestra

A classical percussionist takes on the music of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has the story of a concerto for vibraphone and marimba, arranged by Christopher Deviney, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal percussionist.

July 26, 2021.  To be 80 years old, still vitally contributing to one’s art and performing at peak level — yes, it’s possible, even on an instrument as mentally and physically demanding as the piano. Just listen to Martha Argerich in our Classical Album of the Week.

When can music composed for a film stand on its own? WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports on how John Williams’ suite from Close Encounters of the Third Kind translates to the concert stage.

July 19, 2021. Louis Armstrong is so often framed as a jazz forefather that it becomes easy to lose sight of how much music—really good music—he recorded in the late '40s, '50s, and even well into the 1960s.

July 19, 2021. Gardens are abloom all around our listening area, including on the airwaves, with our Classical Album of the Week. Il Giardino Armonico (The Harmonic Garden) performs music of Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) on period instruments, and reveals surprising aspects of the composer’s personality.