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WRTI is proud to partner with Astral to present members of its outstanding roster of rising classical talent in this new video series. Hosted by WRTI producer Susan Lewis and recorded live in WRTI's performance studio, these programs are "performance portraits" that capture the range and ingenuity of these exceptional artists.

WRTI Presents ASTRAL: Flutist Beomjae Kim and Mandolinist Ekaterina Skliar

Nick Kruse
Ekaterina Skliar, Susan Lewis, and Beomjae Kim in WRTI's Performance Studio, February, 2022.

Astral artists Beomjae Kim on flute and Ekaterina Skliar on mandolin are kicking off our new video series, WRTI Presents Astral, with a program of music celebrating the connections between music, art, and culture, recorded in WRTI’s Performance Studio.

I was excited to get to know and hear this amazing, creative, and fun-loving duo when they were at WRTI last month. Beomjae grew up in Korea, playing flute; Ekaterina in Russia, playing mandolin and domra. Brought together by Astral, today they frequently collaborate to make joyful music that touches a personal chord for them.

First up in the program is an upbeat Sonata for flute and violin by composer Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, described by Beomjae as a “visionary” Baroque composer of instrumental music, operas, ballets, cantatas, and other vocal works who made an independent living without a patron, publishing his own music. “We enjoy playing this music simply because we just love the music,” he says, laughing. Ekaterina plays the violin part on her mandolin, with a sound not unlike, she says, “a very small harpsichord!”

Next you’ll hear an expressive new piece for solo flute by Chicago-based Shawn Okpebholo, commissioned by Beomjae and premiered in his Astral recital back in December, 2021. On a Painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Thankful Poor resonates with Beomjae, who is also a painter, and fascinated by the way art and music can intersect to tell a story.

The last work on the program is a traditional Bulgarian folk dance Ekaterina grew up listening to—played on any instrument that was handy. Her arrangement of Gankino horo, for flute and mandolin, will have you tapping your feet, swaying in your seat, and wondering why there aren’t more works for flute and mandolin.

Learn more about Beomjae Kim and Ekaterina Skliar.

Astral is a Philadelphia-based, nonprofit intensive mentoring program that specializes in developing the early careers of extraordinary classical musicians.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.