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.

Courtesy of Michael Tilson Thomas

Before stepping down 10 months ago at age 75, the San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) owned the longest active tenure of any music director of a major American orchestra; he’d held the position since 1995. Though he’s played piano, composed, and conducted at an elite level since his teenage years, Tilson Thomas has always been more than the classical music wunderkind who grew up to become the great maestro. There was a piece of himself he’d inherited, a piece that hadn’t necessarily been ignored but hadn’t been foregrounded in his work either.

Courtesy of Daniel Matsukawa

A new video features 11 original musical works by young composers spanning a range of styles and visuals—reflections from the year of the pandemic, including loss, grief, love, and hope for renewal. Created by Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Bassoonist Daniel Matsukawa in association with Musical Mentors Collaborative (MMC), the project also invites new submissions; it’s all part of an effort to help us connect and find our way through times of turmoil.

Temple University Archives

Poetry. Motion. Sound. For most of the 85 years Sonia Sanchez has existed, she has known and embraced the power of words and music, eventually merging both aspects into her lyrical yet powerful poetry. To hear Sanchez recite poetry is to listen to her sing, all with a distinct musicality and cadence that belies the early challenges she faced as a motherless girl child who stuttered.

Bill DeCecca

The recorder is a great introduction to early music, which is one reason why Piffaro, The Renaissance Band is resurrecting its Recorder Fest for students online on Sunday, April 18th at 7 PM, which will include performances of two past winners and three finalists from the 2020 competition.

Wikimedia Commons, Artist Unknown

In the mid-19th century, there were few performance opportunities for large-scale works by women composers. Today, a symphony composed in the 1840s by French pianist, teacher and composer Louise Farrenc is finally getting well-deserved attention on the concert stage in Philadelphia.

Getty Images/Libray of Congress

The success of “Mack the Knife,” composed in 1928, and other popular music written by 20th-century German-Jewish composer Kurt Weill overshadowed his orchestral and classical work. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on his second symphony, and why it was not heard for decades.

April 5, 2021. West coaster George Kahn is one of those melodic, easy-swinging pianists that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. He’s not edgy, nor experimental; he appropriates liberally from the Great American Songbook. He’s unabashedly straight-ahead, which, in this day and age, might be a revolutionary act in itself.

April 4, 2021. Holocaust Remembrance Day is April 8th, so this week we turn to the music of 20th-century, Bohemian-born composer Walter Kaufmann, who wrote most of his works in exile, having escaped the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

Bill Douthart

When Uri Caine speaks in his deep, low voice, each phrase unfurls with rich, diverse, all-inclusive information. In a fashion, it’s as if the Philadelphia-born pianist and composer is looking to get everything inside his head out, quietly, but succinctly.

Courtesy of the artists

Oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz and bassoonist Monica Ellis have been making music together throughout the world as members of the woodwind quintet Imani Winds since its founding in 1997. In this TIME IN interview, Monica and Toyin talk about how they've navigated the pandemic with music and related online activities, gardening, family time, and planning for the future.

Pages