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The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert on WRTI: Stéphane Denève Conducts Stravinsky's The Firebird

Wikipedia Commons
Igor Stravinsky

Join us on Sunday, June 14th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, June 15th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2 as our Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast brings you two 21st-century works performed for the first time by the Philadelphians, and Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird from early in the 20th century.

Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève is on the podium to begin the concert with the brilliantly orchestrated Icarus for Orchestra by the Russian-American composer Lera Auerbach, and Peter Lieberson’s powerfully emotional setting of the love sonnets by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Neruda Songs.

Susan Lewis interviews Grammy-winning mezzo soprano Kelly O'Connor.

Lieberson composed Neruda Songs for his wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and you'll hear them performed by the Grammy-winning mezzo soprano Kelley O’Connor, who studied this work with Mr. Lieberson after the tragic death of his wife, of cancer, at age 52; O'Connor is now the world’s foremost interpreter of Neruda Songs. Lieberson himself would live only five years longer than his beloved wife, succumbing to lymphoma at age 64.

Lera Auerbach, born in Chelyabinsk, near the border with Siberia, studied composition at the Juilliard School with Milton Babbitt. Her Icarus is drawn from her seven-movement Symphony No. 1, and it references the classical theme described by Homer about a creature combining goat, lion, and dragon. Auerbach admits to a fascination with Greek mythology, especially the figure of Icarus, “the winged boy who dared to fly too close to the sun.”

Following intermission, the early Stravinsky masterpiece, The Firebird, most often heard in the form of a suite of excerpts, will be given a complete performance by the Philadelphians and Maestro Denève.

During intermission, Susan Lewis speaks with mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, and Debra Lew Harder meets backstage with Stéphane Denève.


Auerbach – Icarus for Orchestra (First Philadelphia Orchestra performance)

Lieberson – Neruda Songs (First Philadelphia Orchestra performance)


Stravinsky – The Firebird (complete ballet)

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Stéphane Denève, conductor

Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app,and your favorite smart speaker! Listen again on Mondays at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.

Gregg was the host of WRTI's morning drive show from 2012 until his retirement from WRTI in January, 2021. He began producing and hosting The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcasts in 2013, joining the Orchestra in Hong Kong for the first-ever live international radio broadcasts from that island in 2016, and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for two historic broadcasts in 2018. You can still hear Gregg as host of the Orchestra broadcasts every Sunday and Monday on WRTI.