A Tempo with Rachel Katz

Saturday at 7 pm

A Tempo is devoted to issues, challenges and opportunities facing the performing arts. In addition to feature interviews with key people making a difference in the arts, the show also includes relevant news headlines from around the globe. 

Ways to Connect

The Philadelphia Orchestra's March 12 emotional performance to an empty Verizon Hall at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center was one of the first indications of the transformation that was about to take place in the music world, with artists and ensembles turning to online options to share their music and provide some comfort to audiences quarantined or self-isolating at home.

In the wake of cancellations because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, musicians and advocacy groups have created funds to provide support for performers who have lost work and income. This Saturday (3/28) on A Tempo, host Rachel Katz looks at some of these efforts in conversations with New Music USA President and CEO Vanessa Reed, composer Marcos Balter, Early Music America Executive Director Karin Brookes, and arts consultant Aubrey Bergauer. Listen at 7 pm. 

With colleges and universities suspending their on-site classes for the remainder of the school year, staff and faculty have had to learn how to use many of the different types of technologies available to keep them in touch with their students and continue teaching at least some of their planned curricula. For faculty and students at music schools and conservatories, which rely heavily on one-on-one technique training or ensemble rehearsals, there are additional challenges to providing this instruction.

The spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus and resulting efforts to contain it have run through the arts world like a domino effect, with performing arts organizations and venues canceling or postponing concerts and musicians left with significant holes in their performance schedules. A Tempo this Saturday (3/14 at 7 pm) looks at the impact on the arts world, as host Rachel Katz speaks with several musicians about the impact on their musical years, and arts consultants Drew McManus and Lisa Husseini. 

With cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus now confirmed in at least 28 states in the U.S., arts organizations across the country are beginning to feel the impact, with some orchestras and venues cancelling tours or concerts, revisiting emergency plans, and seeking guidance from experts in an effort to keep their staff and patrons safe and reassured.

When Roland Colton published his Romance novel  "Forever Gentleman" in 2016, about a struggling architect-by-day, pianist-by-night in Victorian London, he knew he wanted to release an e-novel of the book to better underscore its musical elements. He realized that goal last summer, and this Saturday on A Tempo (2/28 at 7 pm), host Rachel Katz speaks with Colton about the book and the music that plays an integral role in the plot.

Photo by David Perlman

American Lyric Theater, whose Composer Librettist Development Program provides training and mentoring for composers and librettists, this weekend is giving the public a look at three of its new works in development at its annual InsightALT Festival. This Saturday (2/22 at 7 pm), A Tempo host Rachel Katz speaks with ALT founder Larry Edelson about ALT, its mission and the festival's readings, and librettist E.M. (Ellen) Lewis, who worked with composer Evan Meier on "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant", one of the operas that will be featured in the festival. 

Photo by Bob Finkelstein

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts opens its #GLASSFEST Feb. 21, a series of performances highlighting the works of composer Philip Glass. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (2/15 at 7 pm) features conversations with Annenberg Center Executive and Artistic Director Christopher Gruits, and Donald Nally, conductor of The Crossing, which will perform Glass' Knee Plays as part of the festival.

Courtesy NY Public Radio

Pianist Orli Shaham 10 years ago launched her Baby Got Bach interactive children's concert series to introduce children to music. After a decade of inspring children, she recently rebranded it as "Orli Shaham's Bach Yard" to appeal to a broader range of kids through the series and other events. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (2/8 at 7 pm) chats with Shaham about the series and some of the other ways she inspires young musicians, such as her recent appointment as a co-host on NPR's From the Top.

Chris Duggan

A Tempo looks ahead to the next decade in dance in a conversation with Dance Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Stahl, whose predictions include increased diversity and a possible Renaissance for tap. Listen Saturday (2/1) at 7 pm. 

Fred Stucker

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra this past week announced its plans for the 2020-2021 season, and this Saturday (1/25 at 7 pm), A Tempo host Rachel Katz speaks with Music Director Xian Zhang about the orchestra's plans for the season and Beethoven's 250th anniversary.

Frank Stewart

Orchestras and Concert Halls around the country are hosting concerts and other tributes to Martin Luther King, Jr. this month, and this Saturday (1/18 at 7 pm) A Tempo will highlight two of them. Host Rachel Katz will speak with multi-genre musician Damien Sneed, who is bringing his production of "We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr." to Philadelphia's Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Friday Jan. 17 as part of its North American tour, and also with composer and drummer Dr.

Photo courtesy of OSESP

As part of its celebration of Beethoven's 250th birthday anniversary, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute is working with conductor Marin Alsop this year to create a "Global Ode to Joy" - a series of concert performances across six continents, each interpreting the work through a local lens and incorporating the local language and culture.

The movie "The Song of Names" follows the mysterious disappearance of a violin prodigy after World War II and the search to find him by his childhood friend. The movie, directed by Francois Girard, is based on a novel by music commentator and author Norman Lebrecht and opened in select theaters in the U.S. and Canada on Christmas Day.

The classical music world grappled with a variety of issues in 2019 - increasing diversity and inclusion, strikes and lock-outs at major symphony orchestras including Chicago and Baltimore, and allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination. This Saturday (12/28 at 7 pm) on A Tempo, host Rachel Katz chats with Chicago-based arts consultant Drew McManus about these and other 2019 headline-makers, and also looks ahead to what's to come in 2020.

Jenn Manna

Students at Oberlin Conservatory and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will have more opportunities to explore cross-disciplinary minors through a new initiative, and this Saturday on A Tempo (12/21 at 7 pm), host Rachel Katz will speak with Conservatory Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Peter Swendsen and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Laura Baudot.

Opera America last month announced the recipients of its IDEA Opera Grants for composers and librettists of color. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (12/14 at 7 pm) speaks with Opera America President and CEO Marc Scorca, and the two composers - Kui Dong, a composer and professor of composition at Dartmouth College, who with librettist Monica Datta have created a fantasy chamber opera called Hu Tong; and composer Daniel Reza Sabzghabaei, who along with librettist and philosopher Yashar Saghai and librettist Mina Salepour are creating a work called The Veil.

The St. Thomas Choir School in New York is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and A Tempo this Saturday (12/7) looks at the school's history and program. Host Rachel Katz will interview Director of Music Jeremy Filsell and two of the school's students. Listen at 7 pm. 

With the holiday season underway, arts calendars have begun filling up with performances of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker - and this season, at least two ensembles in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania region will be performing Duke Ellington's Nutcracker, an arrangement he created with Billy Strayhorn. A Tempo this Saturday (11/30 at 7 pm) will feature interviews with the directors of these ensembles.


Diversity and inclusion have become important themes in the classical music world, as orchestras and other classical performing arts institutions explore how to better foster diversity, from the staff to the audiences. Early Music America recently announced its own initiative to examine these issues in the more specialized field of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and classical performance organizations, and A Tempo this Saturday (11/16 at 7 pm) takes a look at its goals.

Each year The American Prize recognizes ensembles and conductors for their commitment to American music of all eras, based on performance programming and recordings. This year its Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music in the community orchestra division was given to the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra for its recording, American Romantics, conducted by its Music Director Reuben Blundell.

Ensembles and concert venues have struggled over what to do with audiences attached to their mobile phones, with some choosing to ban the devices outright, while others have introduced apps that allow the audience to interact with the performance during the show. Lincoln Center is the latest venue to explore its options, bringing in the company Yondr to offer concert goers the option of locking their phones in a pouch during four of the classical performances in Lincoln Center's White Light Festival.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will host its Inaugural Women in Classical Music Symposium November 6 - 9, which will include panel discussions and networking opportunities to address issues relevant to women in classical music. This Saturday A Tempo (10/26 at 7 pm) will get a preview of the event.

(*Please note - this week's episode runs a full hour) When Rider University’s plans to sell Westminster Choir College to a Chinese company fell through earlier this year, Rider’s administration found itself back where it started nearly three years ago, when it first announced that it wanted to sell the choir college’s Princeton campus, its home for 87 years, and move its programs to the main campus in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Photo by Matt Pilsner

As her final season as Artistic Director and Resident Playwright of Princeton's McCarter Theatre gets underway, playwright and director Emily Mann is looking ahead to what she calls her "third act." This Saturday (10/12 at 7 pm) on A Tempo, host Rachel Katz speaks with Mann about her 30 years at McCarter, how the theater landscape has changed, and Mann's plans for her own future. 

A partnership of Philadelphia cultural organizations will launch the city's first Philadelphia Music Week later this month, and A Tempo this Saturday (10/5 at pm) will preview what's in store. Host Rachel Katz will speak with Patricia Johnson, senior director of communications and marketing at The Curtis Institute of Music, Roberta Johnson, vice president of audience engagement for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and William Toms, co-founder and chief creative officer of REC Philly, about the initiative's goals and some of the events and groups that will be participating.

Students, alumni and others concerned by Rider University's plans to move Westminster Choir College to Rider's Lawrenceville campus gathered at Rider earlier this week, hoping to pass on their letters of concern to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who was speaking at the University. A Tempo this week covers the protest and students' efforts to tour Rider's Fine Arts Building, where some of their courses would likely meet should the campuses merge.

A study of New Jersey public and charter schools released earlier this month showed that in the 2017/2018 school year, 100 percent of students had access to some form of arts education (visual arts, music, dance and/or theater) in their school, with 81 percent of them participating in some type of school arts program. The milestone marks the achievement of a goal set by a partnership of arts associations and educators, now known as Arts Ed NJ.

A public meeting organized this past week by the Westminster Foundation, which opposes Rider University's plan to move Westminster Choir College's programs to its Lawrence Campus and sell Westminster's campus in Princeton, drew members of the public concerned about the choir college's future. This Saturday on A Tempo (9/14 at 7 pm), host Rachel Katz reports on some of the concerns that were raised by speakers, students and members of the community.

Hildegard von Bingen has been recognized as a pioneer not only for her contributions to Western music, but also for her writings on science and medicine, and her advocacy for some reforms within the Christian church -- accomplishments that were no small feat for a woman at the time. Some of those themes are played out in a new musical now in development called "Hildegard - An Unfinished Revolution" that will be staged as a reading Tuesday Sept. 10 at Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts.

Pages