TIME IN

Hi, I’m Susan Lewis, and I’m happy to introduce TIME IN, a new interview series on WRTI.org. In these days of uncertainty, there are still many things that bring us joy—from the commonplace to the quirky. We’re interviewing musicians, composers, conductors and other people in the arts who are exploring different, positive ways to navigate the pandemic. They talk about discoveries they’ve made and activities they’ve enjoyed, with reflections that encourage us to look ahead to a brighter future. 

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.

courtesy of Donald Nally

Pre-pandemic, Donald Nally was busy teaching and conducting exceptional singers in two cities 800 miles apart, taking regular flights between Chicago, where he directs the choral organizations at Northwestern University, and Philadelphia, where he leads the Grammy-winning ensemble, The Crossing.  In this TIME IN interview, he talks about the power of singing together, his insights from nature, and life decisions about going forward as the world begins to open up. 

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.

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.

Rollo Dilworth pours his heart into teaching, conducting, and writing music for choral singers—and the choral music world loves him back. Typically logging over 100,000 miles a year, he travels the world to conduct and work with choirs of all ages. In this TIME IN interview, he talks about how the shutdown has reinforced his purpose in life, to use music to bring people together and promote social justice.

Courtesy of Lawrence Brownlee

Acclaimed for his astonishing range and expressiveness in opera, concert performances, and recitals, tenor Lawrence Brownlee’s many honors include being named the International Opera Awards' “Male Singer of the Year” in 2017.  In this TIME IN interview, Larry talks about life during the pandemic—he's been busy with family, sports, his own interview show, and creating new works with Opera Philadelphia to share the joy of opera with more people.

Jacqueline Smith

Philadelphia composer Kile Smith's many works have been earning him increasing accolades, with recordings and performances around the country and in other parts of the world in the past few years. He's sharing a new virtual piece for choirs during these difficult times, has discovered a love for working outside, and has recently stepped up his game in another form of artistic expression: photography.  

Courtesy of the artist

English concert soloist, recitalist, and opera star Carolyn Sampson was traveling when governments in Europe and the UK began shutting down in early 2020. In this TIME IN interview, she talks about getting home to England, where she's been making online discoveries with her kids, exploring nature, and looking forward to new projects in the offing.

Courtesy of Peter Dugan

Pianist Peter Dugan was a teenager living in Upper Darby, when, in 2006, he was chosen to perform on From the Top, NPR's nationally syndicated radio program that "showcases the music, stories, and unique humor of America's best young classical musicians."  Now he's the host of the popular program, which is broadcast on over 200 stations across the country, including WRTI.

What is multiple Grammy-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin's response to everyone wearing masks to stay healthy?  "Welcome to my world!" she says. "I’ve been wearing an N95 mask for almost 20 years on every single airplane flight, and since doing that, I've never gotten sick from flying."

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