Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Inside the Curtis Institute of Music

Behind the scenes at Philadelphia's ultra-selective conservatory.

Inside the Curtis Institute of Music


Okay, so unlike my previous post, I can't blame this on the month of November. Here it is, a week after the Inquirer's series on the Curtis Institute of Music is published and and I'm just now getting around to saying something. That's par for the course (couldn't come up with a musical metaphor) for me on this - I was still uploading photos into each day's image gallery well into the night berfore each story ran in the newspaper.

If you didn't see it last weekend, take a look at the whole packege:

Our project - the Curtis Factor - explores the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia’s small and elite music conservatory that is a powerhouse player in the classical music world. 

It includes three articles by Inquirer classical music critic Peter Dobrin, scores of my photographs, a multi-media timeline, videos and other features.

They can all be accessed by clicking here or on any of the images above.

Or you can get to each of the individual pieces through the links below (one advantge of posting a week late):

The stories: Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

The photo galleries: Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Muscial Quirks. Bonus video:Play On, Philly!

The videos: Audition. Traditiion. Tranformation. Variation.

A history Timeline:

Another aspect of The Curtis Factor involved the creation of a new musical score - Trio.

The Inquirer commissioned Curtis student Katerina Kramarchuk to write an original trio for piano, cello and clarinet – performed by Curtis students (the photo at the very top was made during a break in the recording).

The piece - which is both woven throughout the online video documentary on the school and presented in its entirety in a separate video piece. Click here to buy and download the 15-minute work.


I also shot all of the "b-roll" video while hanging out - mostly during the spring - while shooting still photos in the classrooms, practice spaces and hallways at Curtis.

The project was a collaboration of critic Dobrin; graphic artist Cynthia Greer; video producer and editor Frank Wiese; and videographers Robert Kandel, Andy Ritchie, Ian J. Walters, and Michele Tanquilli; along with editors Rebecca Klock, Michael Rozansky, and John Duchneskie (that's Wiese on the left, and Kandel, below, reflected in the double-pane sound-insulated glass of the new reheasal hall as they set up for the "Trio" video & sound recording session. Behind them outside is the portal of St. Mark's Protestant Episcopal church on Locust Street).

There were also contributors from the Features and Photo staff, Multimedia desk, Art Department, Copy Desk, News Desk, and including Janice Ward, Bob Caughron, Thom Guarnieri,Richard Barron, Tracy Koontz, Michael Plunkett, Leah Kauffman, Michael Mercanti, John Gayusky, Jim Selzer, Brian Leighton, Tom McNamara and Sandy Clark.

Inquirer Staff Photographer
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
Also on
letter icon Newsletter