Stream Highlight Performances from WFMT’s 70th Anniversary Day of Celebration

By Keegan Morris |

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Pianist Chris Reynolds and tenor Lunga Eric Hallam perform at WFMT's 70th Anniversary Day of Celebration (Photo: Liz Farina Markel for WFMT)

On December 13, 2021, WFMT marked 70 years of bringing first-rate classical, folk music, and fine arts programming to audiences in Chicago and around the world. And what better way to honor the occasion than with a party!?

From 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on December 13, we shared archival gems, past performance highlights, fond remembrances, and a formidable roster of live performances to salute the station's first 70 years and set the stage for the next 70. Performing from the Steinberg Fine Arts Center Recital Hall at Northeastern Illinois University, our guests for the day included artists from Lyric Opera of Chicago's Ryan Opera Center, Ravinia Festival, Music Institute of Chicago, and Music of the Baroque! Scroll down to catch up with video highlights of these live performances and more.

Ravinia Festival/Steans Piano Trio

The day got off to a strong start with some Brahms, as audiences heard and saw Ravinia Festival's Steans Piano Trio in the first of our nine live broadcasts.

Haymarket Opera Company

Next up in the day was one of the city's brightest and newest organizations: Haymarket Opera Company. Representing the ensemble, which just this past season celebrated its 10th anniversary, was co-founder and artistic director Craig Trompeter (viola da gamba) and plucked instrument specialist Brandon Acker (theorbo) playing music of Marin Marais.

Music Institute of Chicago

After two sets of music by a single composer, we thought it was time to mix it up: our next group — the Music Institute of Chicago — came with three different ensembles. We saw music by Beethoven for violin and piano featuring instructors Sang Mee Lee and Elaine Felder as well as an excerpt of a Haydn string quartet featuring the organization's student Omaggio Quartet. Then, Chicago-area and WFMT staples Ralph Neiweem and Claire Aebersold Neiweem closed out the set with a rousing rendition of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz for piano four hands.

Chicago Sinfonietta Wind Quintet

Next to stop by were players from what the Chicago Tribune dubbed the city's "hippest" orchestra. And we would bet that at the very least, your hips were swaying when the Chicago Sinfonietta Wind Quintet treated listeners (and viewers) to music by Astor Piazzolla and Valerie Coleman.

Anne Harris & Friends

Time for some early-afternoon roots music! We welcomed Chicago-based singer-songwriter-fiddler-performer Anne Harris along with guitarists Ernie Hendrickson and Scott Tipping and cellist Ryan Carney. The emotive, highly personal sound of the group resonated in a half-hour set of original folk, blues, and American roots tunes.

READ MORE: Anne Harris on Alchemy, Music, and Improv

Music of the Baroque Chorus

Next, we expanded our setup (significantly) to welcome 16 members of the Music of the Baroque Chorus. Under the direction of Anthony Megill, the ensemble shared several seasonal works, mesmerizing us in what was just a sample of its annual holiday brass and choral performances.

December 24, 4pm: Hear Music of the Baroque’s Holiday Choral and Brass Concert aired on WFMT!

Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Lincoln Quartet

Next up was some Mozart! Four artists from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took the stage to share the String Quartet in D Major, K. 499 in a commanding and moving performance.

Note: we are not able to share video of the Lincoln Quartet's entire performance, but we will be sharing an excerpt presently.

The CSO's Lincoln Quartet performs at the WFMT 70th Anniversary Day of Celebration (Photo: Liz Farina Markel for WFMT)

Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative

If we hadn't said so, you might not have known that this next set featured pre-college musicians! Founded in 2018, Chicago Musical Pathways Institute is dedicated to preparing young musicians for careers in the US's top orchestras. WFMT welcomed the CMPI String Quartet to the stage, and the prodigious ensemble played two works by Black composers: George Walker's String Quartet No. 1 and Strum by Jessie Montgomery.

Lyric Opera of Chicago's Ryan Opera Center

And then it was time for some vocal fireworks to cap off the day! We welcomed mezzo-soprano Katherine DeYoung, tenor Lunga Eric Hallam, and pianist Chris Reynolds — who are all currently ensemble members of the Ryan Opera Center, Lyric Opera's artist training program — to share an assortment of arias, lieder, and songs!