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.

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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.

Soundward: Rediscovery

June 9, 2017

It’s a format as old as time: two guys sit down to play music and talk about it. Soundward, a continuing collaboration between Relevant Tones and Q2 Music, features lively conversation, new releases from composers around the globe and interesting new discoveries.

Deep Resonances: Modern Music for Bass

June 2, 2017

Thanks to virtuoso performers like Gary Karr, François Rabbath and Edgar Meyer, the double bass is leaping to the front of the concert stage and composers are taking note. This week we’ll listen to some of the music written in the last few decades for this sonorous and incredibly versatile instrument.

Wilco’s Glenn Kotche Goes Classical

May 26, 2017

Called one of the best drummers of all time by Gigwise magazine, Kotche is also a talented and multi-faceted composer who has worked with powerhouse groups like eighth blackbird, So Percussion and Kronos Quartet.


May 19, 2017

Since the Mozarts and the Chopins, to Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland the composer-pianist is easy to trace through time. Now, in the 21st century, there is a resurgence in the tradition. Relevant Tones is examining the diverse composer-performer community from Philip Glass to Yiruma.

Music of Math

May 12, 2017

Though it’s definitely not true of all composers, many have a facility and fascination with math. We’ll talk to several composers who use math in their compositions and find out how this affects the resulting music. Is it all cerebral? What is the balance between emotional expression and mathematical precision?

Boulez Notations

May 5, 2017

In his Notations, Pierre Boulez composed twelve short piano miniatures that contain a cosmos of sound and potentiality. After decades at the helm of the avant-garde, Boulez has set to work unlocking those inner possibilities through thoughtful orchestration and elaboration. Click here for more information on Pierre Boulez

Soundward: New Hits

April 28, 2017

Q2 Music’s Phil Kline joins us to chat about music that hits a chord. The newest recordings that are certain to become a classic.

Late Night at National Sawdust

April 21, 2017

Podcast and live radio collide in an evening of music inspired by fractals, dynamic systems, feedback loops and nature. Open G Records and Access Contemporary Music present: Caroline Mallonee‘s Butterfly Effect, a string quartet inspired by the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in Australia could cause a tornado in Texas, Chin Ting Chan’s gorgeously abrasive Fractals, Lyudmila German’s nod to ...

Gabriel Prokofiev

April 14, 2017

London-based DJ, composer and entrepreneur Gabriel Prokofiev talks with Seth Boustead about composing and performing for a 21st century audience, family legacies, and the use of sampling in classical music. Prokofiev worked with hip-hop turntablist DJ Yoda on the piece Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra. Prokofiev talks about working with DJ Yoda and incorporating the live orchestra into hip-hop like samples.

Composer Spotlight: Chinary Ung

April 7, 2017

Cambodian composer Chinary Ung came to the U.S. to study clarinet and composition but was forced to stay when the Khmer Rouge uprising broke out in his home country killing millions.  Over the years he has helped many family members and friends escape that regime and has documented his struggles in music.

Extra Tones: Music of Migration

April 5, 2017

Extra Tones is a podcast that goes deeper into subjects covered on Relevant Tones. In The Accordion, Seth explored composers who are writing new music for the accordion. Traditionally thought of as a European folk instrument, The Music of Migration tells the story of how accordion music has evolved as it’s traveled with immigrants to North America. Styles have blended and ...

Love and Heresy

March 31, 2017

We had the distinct pleasure of attending two recent opera premieres, the World Premiere of Heresy in Dublin by Roger Doyle and the Met’s premiere of L’Amour de Loin by acclaimed composer Kaija Saariaho. Both operas explore universal themes in strikingly different ways, from Doyle’s setting of the infamous heresy trial of Giordano Bruno, to Saariaho’s mythic setting of idealized love. We’ll hear from Eric Fraad, the ...

New Sounds from Europe

December 15, 2017

We team up with the European Broadcasting Union to bring recent concert events and interviews from some of the brightest musical lights on the continent to our listeners back home.

World Music Days: Vancouver Part 1

December 22, 2017

The International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) holds arguably the world’s most important contemporary music festival in a different city each year.  Much like the Olympics, cities bid to be the host and this year it’s in Vancouver.  In this first program of two, we hear from Jordan Nobles, Charlotte Bray, Jocelyn Morlock, and Stefan Prins.