Listen to the 10 best live performances at WFMT in 2017

By Stephen Raskauskas |

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Every year WFMT is proud to bring you live broadcasts featuring some of today’s most sought-after artists. Enjoy listening to highlights from the best live performances from the WFMT studios in 2017, and be sure to stay tuned for another great year of broadcasts from our studios and beyond.

Danish String Quartet

Danish String Quartet (Photo: Caroline Bittencourt)

Frederik Øland, Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, Asbjørn Nørgaard, and Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin – known collectively as the Danish String Quartet – have described their ensemble with these words: “Yes, playing string quartets is our job, and yes it is hard work, but we mostly do it for pleasure, like we always did.” Sometimes, of course, they revel in quintets, too, as we heard when they were joined by Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen to perform some Shostakovich on Impromptu.

String Quartet No. 7 – Op. 59, No. 1, Movement 3, by Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Quintet in G minor – Op. 57, ‘Scherzo,’ by Dmitri Shostakovich

Tenor Joseph Calleja

Tenor Joseph Calleja

Maltese tenor Jospeh Calleja joined us for a special Valentine’s Day edition of Impromptu while he was in town to sing the role of Don José in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Carmen. Hear him sing “The Flower Song” from Bizet’s opera, a selection from Verdi’s Macbeth, and the well-loved cabaret classic, “La Vie en rose,” below.

“The Flower Song” from “Carmen,” by Georges Bizet

Macduff’s Soliloquy from “Macbeth,” by Guiseppe Verdi

“La Vie en rose,” by Édith Piaf

The 2017 Grammy Honorees

Third Coast Percussion (Photo: Saverio Truglia)

The 2017 Grammy season was an exciting one for Chicago chamber music with Third Coast Percussion, the Lincoln Trio, and Spektral Quartet securing three of the five nominations for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance with Third Coast Percussion bringing home the win. Hear all three ensembles below.

Piano Trio, by Rebecca Clarke (Lincoln Trio)

“Mallet Quartet” from “Music for Pieces of Wood,” by Steve Reich (Third Coast Percussion)

String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 7 by Arnold Schoenberg (Spektral Quartet)

Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues

On a summer evening in 1966, conductor Seiji Ozawa told the blues musicians of Siegel-Schwall, “I’d like your band to sit in with my band…” And so emerged a unique, musical mashup of Blues and Classical. Inspired by Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, William Russo, Mozart, and virtuosity from many cultures, Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues continues to break new ground in its 30th year of innovation. Hear Siegel joined by Jaime Gorgojo, Chihsuan Yang, Dave Moss, and Jocelyn Butler-Shoulders in a set of original works.

Missing Persons Blues – Op. 26, Italian Shuffle, Angel Food Cake, Counter Intuitive – Op. 24, Pt. 1, Raw Umber – Op. 15, Slow Indigo – Op. 16, Complimentary Colors – Op. 17

American String Quartet with Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie performs with the American String Quartet Live in the WFMT studios

American String Quartet performed a new work by Paul Cantelon based on Salman Rushdie’s 2008 novel The Enchantress of Florence with the venerable author reading excerpts amidst the music. Hear excerpts from Cantelon’s Suite onThe Enchantress from Florence” as well as some Beethoven below.

String Quartet in B-flat Major – Op. 130, Movement 1, by Ludwig van Beethoven

Excerpts from Suite on “The Enchantress from Florence,” by Paul Cantelon

TenThing Brass Ensemble

TenThing Brass Ensemble

The ten women of tenThing, the Norwegian brass sensation, spent a day in Chicago as they traveled from coast to coast of the United States, and made a visit to the WFMT studios. Hear them play Bernstein and Grieg.

“Tonight” from A West Side Story, by Bernstein, Leonard

Gjendine’s Lullaby, Op. 6, No. 19; March of the Trolls, Op. 54, No. 3, by Edvard Grieg

The Knights

The Knights (Photo by Shervin Lainez)

The Knights (Photo: Shervin Lainez)

The Knights returned to the WFMT studios before a performance at Ravinia featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham. Hear them play beloved works by Mozart and Dvořák below, as well as a new piece by Siamak Aghaei.

Symphony No. 40 in G minor, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“Song to the Moon” from Rusalka, by Antonín Dvořák

“Ascending Bird,” by Siamak Aghaei and Colin Jacobsen

Dover String Quartet

Dover Quartet (Photo: Carlin Ma)

From up and coming to one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world, the Dover Quartet joined us on Live from WFMT to perform the works of Schumann, Bartok, and Tchaikovsky.

String Quartet No. 2 in F Major – Op. 41, No. 2, by Robert Schumann

String Quartet No. 1, by Béla Bartók

String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Fifth House Ensemble

Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble has been praised by the New York Times for its “conviction, authority, and finesse.” Committed to innovative programming and educational outreach, the ensemble presents performances in traditional and untraditional venues and establishes partnerships with educational institutions and regularly collaborates with artists of other disciplines. They returned to the WFMT with guitarist Jason Vieaux.

“Low Country Haze,” by Dan Visconti

“In A Sentimental Mood,” by Ellington, Duke

Café Music, Movement 1 – Allegro, by Paul Schoenfield

Music of the Baroque Brass Ensemble

For almost 40 years, holiday concerts with Music of the Baroque have been a Chicago tradition. This year, the Music of the Baroque Brass ensemble visited WFMT's Levin studio to share some selections from MOB's 2017 holiday concert which you can stream below.

Sonata pian e forte, by Giovanni Gabrielli

Selections from Terpsichore, by Michael Praetorius

Sonata, by Giovanni Battista Buonamente