Live broadcasts from the WFMT studios with some of today’s best artists.
Our live afternoon series of “impromptu” music and conversation features some of today’s most sought-after musicians from around the world. Previous guests on Impromptu have included cellist Yo-Yo Ma, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and author Salman Rushdie. Other guests have included Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, tenor Joseph Calleja, violinist Joshua Bell, and the vocal ensemble Chanticleer. Broadcast live from the Levin Performance Studio at WFMT, the program also features local performers who are vital to Chicago’s vibrant musical culture.
Hugo Wolf Quartett
For more than 30 years, the Hugo Wolf Quartett has demonstrated crystalline virtuosity across many styles. When the Vienna-based ensemble gave a rare Chicago performance in 2009, George Preston welcomed them to WFMT’s Levin Studio for this Impromptu.
Lawrence Brownlee, tenor & Craig Terry, piano
On October 15, 2015, the extraordinary American tenor, Lawrence Brownlee, and the superb collaborative pianist, Craig Terry, shared repertoire by Rossini – a Brownlee specialty – as well as a spiritual, “Come By Here,” as well as Britten’s lovely “Down By the Sally Gardens.”
Stephane Wrembel, guitar
Born in Paris, home of Impressionism and Django Reinhardt, guitarist Stephane Wrembel is one of the most original guitar voices in contemporary music. In this Impromptu from February 2020, he performed his composition “Bistro Fada,” a Django-influenced swinging waltz, evoking the spirit of the night in the City of Lights.
Awadagin Pratt, piano and Zuill Bailey, cello
The friends and collaborators performed Brahms works for cello and piano.
Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
Pianists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Roe aim to make classical music a relevant and powerful force around the world. Their joyful virtuosity shines through chart-topping albums, Emmy-nominated music videos, and an extensive international touring schedule.
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
In Spring 2011, Kerry Frumkin welcomed members of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, a group heralded as “the best period orchestra in the world.” This musical hour on Impromptu includes music by Telemann and Handel.
Danish String Quartet and Juho Pohjonen, piano
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 ...
Mūza Rubackytė, piano
Mūza Rubackytė began her stunning career when she made her debut at the age of 7. Kerry Frumkin has long been a champion of this great Lithuanian pianist, and you can hear why in this 2011 Impromptu broadcast.
Tai Murray, violin & Ann Hobson Pilot, harp
The great American harpist Ann Hobson Pilot collaborated with violinist Tai Murray in this performance from 2012.
Juan Falú, guitar
It was in April 2019 that the beloved Argentine folkloric guitarist and composer Juan Falú shared his music on Impromptu on WFMT.
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Lisa Flynn welcomed pianist Marc-André Hamelin to WFMT for this 2014 Impromptu. At the time, he was on tour with the Takács Quartet, and violinist Edward Dusinberre and violist Geraldine Walther visited the studio with him.
Barcelona Duo de Guitarra
When some people go on vacation they bring home souvenirs to share with friends. When Kerry Frumkin and his family travelled to Barcelona in 2010, they met a terrific guitar duo and invited them to perform on Impromptu during their 2012 U.S. tour.
Joseph Calleja, tenor & Jerad Mosbey, piano
Join us for a special Valentine’s Day Impromptu featuring Joseph Calleja. The Maltese tenor included songs by Mario Lanza and Edith Piaf when he sang live on WFMT in 2017.
Since its formation in 1997, the Grammy nominated Imani Winds has established itself as one of America’s premier wind quintets. When Kerry Frumkin welcomed the group in 2013, they played works by ensemble member Valerie Coleman, as well as Igor Stravinsky and Manuel de Falla.
Reginald R. Robinson, piano
The story goes that Reginald R. Robinson first heard the sweet strains of ragtime music through the loudspeaker of a neighborhood ice cream truck. Years later, the self-taught pianist and composer received a 2004 “genius” fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. Reginald Robinson performed some of his original compositions on Impromptu in 2017.
Anthony Molinaro, piano & Howard Levy, harmonica
This Impromptu encore features a beautiful collaboration between two relentless musical explorers: pianist Anthony Molinaro and harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy. George Preston welcomed the duo to WFMT’s Levin Performance Studio in 2012, and they performed music by the Beatles.
SYBARITE5’s eclectic repertoire and dynamic performance style has earned this string quintet great acclaim. The group’s members, violinists Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney, violist Angela Pickett, cellist Laura Metcalf, and bassist Louis Levitt, made their WFMT debut on January 13, 2013.
R. Carlos Nakai, flute & members of Fulcrum Point New Music Project
Ten years ago, Stephen Burns and Fulcrum Point New Music Project performed live on Impromptu with a very special guest, Native American flute virtuoso and composer R. Carlos Nakai.
Paul Galbraith, guitar
Paul Galbraith’s guitar has eight strings and he makes the most out of the extra high and low notes. The instrument rests, supported by an end-pin, on a wooden resonance box. Paul brought his unusual guitar and his unique playing to Impromptu in 2017.
Patrick Dupré Quigley and singers from Music of the Baroque
In this 2019 Impromptu, guest conductor Patrick Dupré Quigley, founder and artistic director of the vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire, led a Music of the Baroque chorus in music for the holiday season.