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.

Amie Goodman

A dozen of the world’s best jazz guitarists will convene on Saturday, March 20th at 8 PM for the 2021 edition of the Alternative Guitar Summit (AGS). Founded in 2010 by guitarist Joel Harrison, AGS’s goal is to honor a living guitar legend by having some of the most accomplished guitarists of today interpret their work.

The Black Music City project announced today that it is distributing a total of $48,000 to 23 Black creatives in the greater Philadelphia area to produce new artistic works inspired by Philadelphia’s rich Black music history. Each recipient is receiving between $1,000 and $3,500 each.

Leighton Smith /Unsplash

WRTI looks at the origins of this famous ballad, its mysteries, and why it is sung to convey deeply felt emotion and love during times of mourning.

March 15, 2021. With a grand stroke of prescience, NEA Jazz Master Maria Schneider crafted a double album about being polarized by the demands of a digital society and longing for human connection, all before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 15, 2021. The Pacifica Quartet's new album, Contemporary Voices, features works by three Pulitzer Prize winners, including Shulamit Ran, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Jennifer Higdon. Higdon talks to us about how her 1993 piece, Voices, featured on this album, has the seeds of many of her subsequent works.

Courtesy of Joanna Pascale

Jazz has featured women contributors from its inception. Yet beyond vocalists, female composers and instrumentalists are disturbingly underrepresented across the genre. However, as society evolves, outdated stereotypes are being challenged as more women in music take leadership roles—both on and off the stage.

Paul Bergen/Getty Images

March 11th, 2021 marks the centennial of the birth of Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, who took the tango of his youth to new places.  He infused it with elements of classical music and jazz, creating his own distinctive style. 

Mark Morris

Let’s get one thing out of the way first, in case there is any doubt: “Women Composers” is not a genre. Neither is “music by women,” as a category, written with any different level of skill or sensitivity than is “music by men.”

Courtesy of Jeff Curnow

Jeff Curnow does double duty with his "dream job" as principal associate trumpet in The Philadelphia Orchestra and as a popular cartoonist whose work has been appearing regularly on NPR Classical's Facebook and Twitter feeds since 2015.

Max Barrett

A visionary with seemingly boundless energy, pianist Lara Downes is clearing new paths in the classical music landscape, expanding minds and spurring social change.