Voice of the Arts

Insights and anecdotes from musicians, dancers, artists, actors and directors, as well as audience response.

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Mary Birnbaum - Pittsburgh Opera's "In a Grove" - Feb 15, 2022

Pittsburgh Opera presents the World Premiere of "In a Grove" by Christopher Cerrone - February 19th through March 3rd at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.  WQED-FM's Anna Singer spoke with Stage Director Mary Birnbaum about the opera; her look for the production; working with Christopher Cerrone, and more.  

Christopher Hahn - Pittsburgh Opera's "In a Grove" - Feb 15, 2022

Pittsburgh Opera presents the World Premiere of "In a Grove" by Christopher Cerrone - February 19th through March 3rd at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.  WQED-FM's Anna Singer spoke with Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn about deciding to commission a world premiere; how he met the composer; how he hopes the production will have a life beyond Pittsburgh and more.

Stephanie Fleischmann - Pittsburgh Opera's "In a Grove" - Feb 15, 2022

Pittsburgh Opera presents the World Premiere of "In a Grove" by Christopher Cerrone - February 19th through March 3rd at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.  WQED-FM's Anna Singer spoke with the librettist Stephanie Fleischmann about the opera; her inspiration for the libretto; working with the composer; and more.  

Dr. Jem Spectar - University of Pittsburgh Johnstown - Feb 15, 2022

The new book "Movement+Music=Medicine" by Dr. Jem Spectar, President of the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown, gathers available research to suggest how dance may help slow the onset of Alzherimer's and Parkinson's disease. He has specific suggestions on how to adhere to a prescription for success after tracing the history of dance and mental health over centuries. Does listening to music reduce the need for psychotropic drugs and does Mozart make you smarter? Dr. Spectar has the answer in this interview with Jim Cunningham. Dr. Spectar also discusses his recent opinion page article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette suggesting how Americans should participate in a Democracy Corps similar to the Peace Corps to help heal the divide in America between rural and urban views which threaten the American way of life. Dr. Spectar is a lawyer and professor who has served institutions in Oregon, Scranton and Princeton. He has been President of UPJ Johnstown for more than a decade presiding over substantial growth of academic programs and facilities.

Antony Walker - Pittsburgh Opera's "In a Grove" - Feb 15, 2022

Pittsburgh Opera presents the World Premiere of "In a Grove" by Christopher Cerrone - February 19th through March 3rd at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.  WQED-FM's Anna Singer spoke with Pittsburgh Opera Music Director Antony Walker about the opera; what it's like conducting a world premiere; the use of electronics in the work and more.  

Carnegie Museum of Art - Charlene Foggie-Barnett - Feb 14, 2022

Charlene Foggie- Barnett, Community Archivist for the Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive at the Carnegie Museum of Art, discusses the exhibits in the Museum and at the City County Building in downtown Pittsburgh with Jim Cunningham.  Topics include Teenie’s special talent, who he photographed and their significance to Pittsburgh and historians, genealogists, filmmakers like Denzel Washington and the producers of "Finding Your Roots" with over 80,000 negatives in the collection. Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908–1998) was the preeminent photographer for The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s most prominent Black newspapers photographing Pittsburgh’s historic African American community from 1935 to 1975. His archive  is one of the most detailed and intimate records of the Black urban experience known today. Charlene discusses her work as archivist studying the photos of Pittsburghers including musicians like Patricia Prattis Jennings who is captured at several places in her career as well as her father who was an important figure at the Pittsburgh Courier. The Teenie Harris gallery at the Carnegie with In Sharp Focus: Charles “Teenie” Harris  is open during regular hours at the CMOA.  You  can visit  visit Teenie Harris: The Man Behind the Lens at the City County Building.

 

 

Marianne Cornetti, James Gourlay, Heidi Matthews - Feb 10, 2022

Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait and Copland Songs sung by Marianne Cornetti with James Gourlay and the Duquesne University Wind Ensemble playing Joseph Wilcox Jenkins American Overture and other American essentials celebrating Presidents Day in a concert at the Andrew Carnegie Library and Music Hall in Carnegie Pa on February 21 at 7pm. The Director of the Music Hall, Heidi Matthews and Jim Cunningham join with one of the greatest internationally recognized sopranos of her generation and one of the greatest tuba virtuosi in the known world also serving as Director of the River City Brass and recently adding his American citizenship top his passport. James Gourlay says "We need this concert as American." Hear why in this Voice of the Arts conversation.

Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh - "Pratt Plays Beethoven" - Feb 1, 2022

Chamber Music Pittsburgh presents an all Beethoven concert February 5th, 7pm at Rodef Shalom Temple in Levy Hall. Edward Leonard is sharing the podium with Awadagin Pratt who plays and conducts from the keyboard the First Beethoven Piano Concerto. Awadagin joins Executive Director Andrew Swenson and Maestro Leonard plus Jim Cunningham to discuss his early years in Pittsburgh and his work at the University of Cincinnati, the performances he will give of the new Piano Concerto by Jessie Montgomery and the state of people of color in classical music today. Awadagin's dad was a nuclear physicist studying at CMU and his Mom finished a degree at the University of Pittsburgh in social work when he was born. He's played for the Tuesday Musical Club, Chamber Music Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Symphony, still follows the Steelers, and love's his home town even if he can't remember his childhood in East Liberty.

Dr. Cyril Wecht - Jan 28, 2022

It was elements of the CIA who were responsible for the death of President John F. Kennedy says Dr. Cyril Wecht. He has been certain of it since 1964 and says so again with new evidence in two new books - "The JFK Assassination Dissected: An Analysis by Forensic Pathologist Cyril Wecht with Dawna Kaufman" and "The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht: Memoirs of America's Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist," written with WQED Producer Jeff Sewald. Dr. Wecht is the retired Allegheny County Coroner and Medical Examiner who served as County Commissioner, holds degrees in law and medicine, taught at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and has presided over 21,000 autopsies and written over twenty books.

In this conversation with Jim Cunningham Dr. Wecht discusses his violins and holding down the concertmaster's chair in the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He admired Jascha Heifetz, Zino Francescatti and the greats who appeared under Fritz Reiner and William Steinberg at the Syria Mosque. He marvels at Beethoven writing the Ninth Symphony while deaf and thinks it may have been lead poisoning that killed Ludwig. 

His criticism of the Warren Commission's findings regarding JFK and the single bullet theory that involved Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin is pointed and backed up with first-hand knowledge including lunch meetings with Oswald's widow Marina. There must have been three shooters he says.

Dr. Wecht is still waiting for the release of documents promised by the Trump and Biden administrations. He knows he ruffled feathers and made enemies along the way, but he had to do it his way.   Dr. Wecht's wife, his children and the memories of his parents are what he holds most dear. Will there be a civil war in America? He thinks not, but he is deeply concerned about the health of the political scene in the country he served as a Navy man. At age 91, he is pleased to speak for those who can not tell tales.

James Lesniak - Pittsburgh Opera's "The Rose Elf" - Jan 20, 2022

Pittsburgh Opera presents David Hertzberg's "The Rose Elf" January 22 through the 30th at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.  WQED-FM's Jim Cunningham spoke with the opera's conductor, James Lesniak, about the opera's music.  

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