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.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was born in Russia on April 1st, 1873. Now, 130 years later, watch this beautiful music video rendition of his Vocalise, played by internationally renowned and Philadelphia-based concert pianist Ching-Yun Hu, and recorded in the WRTI Performance Studio.

Courtesy of the artist

How does trombonist-composer Ernest Stuart best show his Philadelphia-ness? Of course, there is his music. Stuart has a post-bop-jazz-based but often genre-fluid sound that merges influences from Philadelphia soul past and present. Think Gamble & Huff and John Legend melded with alternative electronic pop á la Radiohead. In his mind, it’s a very Philadelphia thing to do.

March 29, 2021. This Bitter Earth, Veronica Swift’s sophomore release from Mack Avenue Records, takes on issues of weighty social concern. Most everyone’s doing that now, it seems—and, hey, that’s probably a good thing. But the reason this album succeeds is because Swift was a preeminent vocal stylist before and still is.

March 29, 20201. Up for a trivia challenge? If I were to say these next few hundred words are about a gifted, creative mind, a turn-of-the-century woman who was a friend of Rainer Maria Rilke and also happened to attend the 1911 premiere of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier in Dresden, the history buffs and armchair musicologists among us might manage a few guesses. Who is the woman in question?

Katyayani Krishnan

When trumpeter Alonzo Demetrius arrived at Berklee College of Music in the fall of 2014, he expected to have his musical world opened up to new pathways. What came as a surprise is the way the school broadened his political thinking as well.

Courtesy of the artist

The bond between Temple University and WRTI has always been strong, but a growing partnership between Temple’s Intellectual Heritage program and WRTI, just a block off the university's main campus, has helped to infuse new energy and fresh perspectives into a longstanding prerequisite of Temple's liberal arts curriculum.

Simon Fowler

Beethoven had a funny side, and conductor Nathalie Stutzmann says you can hear it in his Symphony No.4, a work that's often been overshadowed by his grander symphonic compositions. WRTI's Susan Lewis has the story.

March 22, 2021. All Things Are Quite Silent is the debut commercial recording of the Chapel Choir of Pembroke College, Cambridge, and The Pembroke College Girls’ Choir. Under their remarkable conductor, Anna Lapwood, the choirs perform a sonically elegant program of short a capella selections by composers ranging from Josef Rheinberger to Caroline Shaw. And in keeping with our celebration of women’s history month, the work of women composers comprise the majority of the album.

March 22, 2021. Many of us have spent the last week reminiscing about what it was we were doing exactly one year ago. Memories are popping up on our social media accounts about the shutdown and the search for hand sanitizer, and we look at them and try to figure out how an entire year has passed. So much has happened, and composer, guitarist and Philly native Monnette Sudler has managed to touch on the many moods of the past 12 months on Stay Strong. 

Wikipedia Commons

While Easter has inspired Bach's Saint Matthew Passion and many other beloved classical works, the holiday of Passover—being celebrated by millions of the Jewish faith this week—claims no famous pieces in the concert repertoire. WRTI's Debra Lew Harder explores why, and finds out what music you can find at a seder.