Relevant Tones

Fridays at 10:00 pm
Relevant Tones

A weekly exploration of the most fascinating time in classical music history: right now.

With composers from nearly every country in the world creating music in diverse styles, there has simply never been a more exciting time for classical music. Relevant Tones creator and host Seth Boustead dives into this treasure trove of music accompanied by first-person interviews, in the field segments that take him to festivals and concert halls around the world, with stellar performances by talented ensembles and soloists.

Subscribe to the Podcast

LIVE: Late Night at National Sawdust

October 20, 2017

In this final live broadcast from Brooklyn’s hottest new music venue, National Sawdust, we’re featuring chamber and vocal music by the late, great Steven Stucky, a former composer in residence with the New York Philharmonic and modern compositional master.   

Sonata Form Redux

October 13, 2017

Sonata form is one of the oldest composition structures in classical music but it’s being rediscovered, and in many cases re-purposed, by contemporary composers. What is the lasting appeal? We’ll play music by four composers looking to the past for formal inspiration.

In the Field: Palermo

October 6, 2017

We go In the Field to the rustic town of Palermo, Italy for the International Rostrum of Composers where we heard a stunning array of new music by three generations of creative artists from around the world.

Online exclusive: Look + Listen | The Studio Museum

October 2, 2017

Explore the Look + Listen Festival, an annual event dedicated to presenting contemporary music in contemporary art galleries.

Starting from Scratch

September 29, 2017

This week’s Relevant Tones focuses on composers who have tried to step outside the box, redefine their definitions of music, and start over without limitations. We’ll be examining the works of Alvin Lucier, Chris Preissing, James Tenney, Lou Harrison, and more.

Composer Cosmology

September 22, 2017

As astrophysicists like Neil deGrasse Tyson learn more about the cosmos and present their often strange and wondrous findings to the public, the creative mind can’t help but be captivated and inspired, and composers are certainly no exception. From super strings to quarks, multiple dimensions to M theory, we’ll play several imaginative works by composers captivated by our universe.

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

September 15, 2017

Composer Mason Bates brings Steve Jobs life story to the stage in Santa Fe Opera’s production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. The opera combines expressive electronics with electric guitar, Bates’ signature rich orchestration and sleek lighting design for a truly modern experience.

Composer Spotlight: Bernard Rands

September 8, 2017

Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Bernard Rands shares his thoughts on his catalogue of over a hundred published works and recordings with Seth. From his 1963 premiere at Darmstadt to 1986 Kennedy Center Friedheim Award winning orchestral suites Le Tambourin, to his 2011  Chicago Symphony Orchestra commission, Danza Petrificada and beyond.

Soundward: Time Travel

September 1, 2017

Over the years pop artists have been making the transition from guitar slaying Hair Rock to classical composers. Seth and Q2 Music’s Phil Kline feature musicians like Kip Winger, Billy Joel, Jonny Greenwood and Roger Waters. Why are they making the transition and does it work?

Composer Spotlight: Christopher Rouse

August 25, 2017

For many years the composer-in-residence with the NY Philharmonic, Christopher Rouse combines neoromanticism with hard driving, rock-inspired rhythms to create a fascinating musical style all his own.

Activist Music

August 18, 2017

We live in a charged political environment and though music is often seen as an escape, many composers have chosen to use their work to make a statement.  From Ted Hearne’s piece The Source, based on the story of Chelsea Manning, the US Army Private who infamously leaked classified military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010 to David T. Little’s operas ...

Thirsty Ears LIVE Preview from the Levin

August 11, 2017

Relevant Tones’ is highlighting the performers and works featured in the second annual Thirsty Ears Festival: Chicago’s only classical music street festival!  This LIVE broadcast is coming straight from WFMT’s Levin on Friday August 11th.

Going Solo

August 5, 2017

There is perhaps no more intimate connection in music than when a composer writes a solo piece specifically for a gifted performer, crafting the piece for the player’s specific strengths and musical tastes. We’ll talk with several performers about solos that have been written for them and feature performances of the pieces recorded live in our Levin studio.

Composers Among Us: Angélica Negrón

July 28, 2017

Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón writes music for accordions, toys and electronics as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. Her works Bubblegum Grass Peppermint Field and La Isla Magica are as whimsical as their names suggest. Leap into Negron’s mind and music in the latest installment of our Composers Among Us series.

Late Night at National Sawdust III

July 21, 2017

Relevant Tones teams up for the third concert series with Open G Records and Access Contemporary Music to present new music broadcasting from Brooklyn.

Dealer’s Choice 2017

July 14, 2017

Great music is a game of expertise, luck, and chance. As an avid poker player himself, Seth will deal out the a deck of great selections. Every track is bound to be a winner and not just the luck of the draw.

Balearic and Catalonia in New York

July 7, 2017

Ramon Llull was a leading philosopher, logician and writer in medieval Catalonia and the foundation that today bears his name works to export Catalonian culture and music throughout the world. Their most recent project in the U.S. is an exciting weekend of concerts and workshops in New York and a window into current trends in Catalonian music. Relevant Tones travels ...


June 30, 2017

Something of a lost art, improvisation in classical music is making a comeback in a big way thanks to composers like Steven Snowden, Don Malone, and Aaron Johnson. Teaming up with fantastic performers, they prove that improvisation very much has a place in the modern concert hall.

Memory Palaces

June 23, 2017

A Memory Palace is a technique for memorizing long lists of names or places by associating each list item with an object in your imaginary “memory palace”. This is derived from the method of loci developed in ancient Greece and Rome. Many composers have been inspired by this technique and have written pieces with this title. In this episode, we ...

Composers Among Us: Errollyn Wallen

June 16, 2017

The next in our series spotlighting talented up and comers features versatile singer, pianist and composer Errollyn Wallen, who is creating a unique body of work and making an international name for herself along the way.

1 2 3 4

Eighty Trips Around the Sun

October 27, 2017

Seth speaks with Sarah Cahill about the new box set Eighty Trips Around the Sun, celebrating the music of Terry Riley.

Foster the Music: Ireland

November 3, 2017

The Contemporary Music Centre in Ireland is one of the world’s foremost models of government support for composers, with dozens of composers receiving financial support, commissions and travel grants. We plunge into the incredible wealth of music created by this program.

Composer Spotlight: Zhou Long

November 10, 2017

One of the first composers to graduate from the Beijing Conservatory upon its reopening after the Cultural Revolution and the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for his opera Madame White Snake, Zhou Long creates thoughtful, spiritually-infused music that has resonated with audiences across the globe.