INTRODUCTIONS – WFMT’s weekly showcase for talented young musicians celebrates 15th anniversary


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CHICAGO – March 20, 2023 – On Saturday, April 8 at 11:00 am, WFMT classical radio will celebrate the 15th anniversary of INTRODUCTIONS, the Saturday morning series with host and producer Robbie Ellis featuring the best and brightest pre-college musicians from across the Chicago region. Listen for an hour of the most memorable performances from the past 15 years.

Introductions premiered on WFMT on April 5, 2008, produced by David Polk and hosted by Lisa Brownstone and Raja Burrows, then college students at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University respectively. Over the course of the series, many of the area’s finest young instrumentalists have gone on to successful careers in classical music – including Grammy and Emmy Award-winning pianist, composer, and singer Emily Bear, who made her INTRODUCTIONS debut at age 7; violist Matthew Lipman, now performing with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; pianist Kate Liu, third place finisher in 2015 at the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition; vibraphonist Joel Ross, a luminary in the jazz world; and numerous members of orchestras worldwide, including violinist Robert Sanders (Vienna Philharmonic’s Orchestra Academy)); violist Beatrice Chen (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Robert Black (named Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Tuba at age 19); cellist Sonia Mantell (Minnesota Orchestra); and Christine Murphy (Assistant Principal Flute of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra).

WFMT’s April 8th anniversary special will feature the following performances including: 

Jan Vargas Nedvetsky, cello, performing Song of the Black Swan by Heitor Villa-Lobos, accompanied by pianist Milana Pavchinskaya
Vargas Nedvetsky, 16, gave a solo recital on INTRODUCTIONS when he was just 14, and has appeared on WFMT numerous times as part of chamber groups. He was named First Alternate in the 2023 Crain-Maling Foundation CSO Young Artist Competition, and his unforgettable performance from the finals will be presented on INTRODUCTIONS on April 1. Nedvetsky chose the Villa-Lobos composition for this program to pay tribute to his Latin American heritage.

Quartet Bellezza, performing Romanze from String Quartet No. 1 by Johannes Brahms
Quartet Bellezza, an ensemble that was formed at Midwest Young Artist Conservatory, won the Gold Medal in the Junior Strings Division of the prestigious Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2017. Alumni of the group are now playing with the Vienna Philharmonic and New World Symphony.

The Bone Rangers, performing Canzona by Biagio Marini
The top trombone quartet at the Merit School of Music, The Bone Rangers has made numerous appearances on INTRODUCTIONS with different members.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, performing the Finale from Symphony No. 3, the “Organ” Symphony, by Camille Saint-Saëns
This selection, which features guest organ soloist David Schrader conducted by CYSO music director Allen Tinkham, served as the finale to CYSO’s 2019 Fall Concert. Many former members of the ensemble have cited this piece as their favorite experience of their time with the orchestra.

“It has been an honor to welcome, encourage, and spotlight these spectacular young musicians over the years,” said WFMT host Robbie Ellis. “INTRODUCTIONS is core to WFMT’s purpose to enrich lives, engage communities, and inspire exploration as these young musicians help build a welcoming on-ramp for new listeners to classical music.”

WFMT is marking the anniversary with a curated two-CD set of highlights that will be available as a thank-you gift in the upcoming Spring Membership Drive. The collection will include memorable solo, chamber, and orchestral performances from a decade and a half of INTRODUCTIONS.

WFMT is one of the world’s most respected classical music radio stations, accessible via broadcast at 98.7FM, streaming live at, and on the WFMT app. Recognized for trusted hosted programming, immersive live performances and concerts, strong partnerships with community organizations and championing young, local musicians and access to the arts, WFMT spotlights inspiring music, musicians, and musical performances from Chicago and around the world including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, and many more. Connect with WFMT on Facebook and Twitter.

INTRODUCTIONS is made possible by the generous support of The Negaunee Foundation, the Kiphart Family Foundation, and WFMT listener supporters.