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.
Concerto Köln with Shunske Sato, violin
On February 28, 2020, Concerto Köln, a highly esteemed period chamber orchestra from Germany, performed live on Impromptu with the ensemble’s distinctive concertmaster, Shunske Sato.
M5 Mexican Brass
Since 2005, M5 Mexican Brass has earned international recognition as Mexico’s leading brass quintet by performing virtuosic chamber music in all styles. These charming cultural ambassadors visited WFMT in 2017.
The Smetana Trio
Founded in 1934, the Smetana Trio enjoys an extensive discography and busy international tour schedule. Current members of the respected Czech chamber ensemble performed live on Impromptu in 2018.
Jorge Federico Osorio, piano
Hear a performance from 2015 featuring the wonderful pianist Jorge Federico Osorio. Osorio has earned international acclaim for his superb musicianship, powerful technique, and elegant performances.
Awadagin Pratt, piano and Zuill Bailey, cello
When pianist Awadagin Pratt and cellist Zuill Bailey released their 2012 recording, Brahms Works for Cello and Piano, these two friends, collaborators, and ping-pong competitors performed selections on Impromptu.
Escher String Quartet
Tune in to hear the marvelous Escher String Quartet perform Debussy’s only string quartet, the first truly Impressionist-style chamber music. This dynamic ensemble visited WFMT’s Levin Performance Studio in January 2020.
Stephane Wrembel, guitar
Hear French guitarist Stephane Wrembel celebrate the Gypsy spirit of Django Reinhardt in this Impromptu Encore from February 2020.
Marta Aznavoorian, David Cunliffe, and Desirée Ruhstrat named the Lincoln Trio after the ensemble’s place of origin: the heartland of the United States and the land of Lincoln. This performance by these three extraordinary collaborators took place on Impromptu in 2012.
Catalyst Quartet, a Sphinx ensemble
In September 2013, the Catalyst Quartet, a Sphinx ensemble, performed live on Impromptu.
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin & Marta Aznavoorian, piano
In this Impromptu Encore from August 2019, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers performs with pianist Marta Aznavoorian.
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center offers programs curated to provide listeners a comprehensive perspective on the art of chamber music, presenting repertoire from over three centuries and numerous premieres by living composers. Four pianists associated with CMS (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Anne-Marie McDermott, André-Michel Schub, and Wu Han) visited WFMT in 2012 taking turns in works for piano duo.
Philip Setzer, violin; David Finckel, cello; and Wu Han, piano [Encore Broadcast]
Co-artistic directors of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Music at Menlo, pianist Wu Han and her husband, cellist David Finckel, channel their passion for making music with extraordinary colleagues through live concerts, a radio series, and online experiences. In this 2016 broadcast, Wu Han and David played live with cherished collaborator, violinist Phil Setzer.
Tai Murray, violin & Ann Hobson Pilot, harp [Encore Broadcast]
The great American harpist Ann Hobson Pilot collaborated with violinist Tai Murray in this performance from 2012.
tenThing [Encore Broadcast]
One busy day in 2017, the ten women of tenThing, the lively and distinctive Norwegian brass ensemble, spent an afternoon in Chicago. During a lay-over en route from concerts in California to performances in Virginia, the group visited WFMT to perform live on Impromptu, then sampled deep-dish pizza before leaving for the airport.
Rachel Barton Pine [Encore Broadcast]
Shortly after releasing her 2017 album, Bel Canto, violinist Rachel Barton Pine demonstrated the showmanship required to perform Paganini’s virtuosic Caprices.
Imani Winds [Encore Broadcast]
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.
George Li, piano [Encore Broadcast]
Praised by the Washington Post for combining “staggering technical prowess, a sense of command and depth of expression,” pianist George Li possesses brilliant virtuosity and effortless grace far beyond his years. He captured the Silver Medal at the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition and was the recipient of the 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant. This Impromptu dates from March 2, 2018. ...
Danish String Quartet [Encore Broadcast]
The Danish String Quartet once described themselves with self-effacing friendliness, quipping “…we are simply your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard.” Violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violist Asbjørn Nørgaard, and cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin made their Impromptu debut on October 9, 2014.
Philippe Quint, violin, and Marta Aznavoorian, piano [Encore Broadcast]
In this Impromptu from August 19, 2019, Grammy nominated artists, violinist Philippe Quint and pianist Marta Aznavoorian, showcased their collaborative album, Chaplin’s Smile. Tune in to hear arrangements for violin and piano of songs composed by Charlie Chaplin for his most well-known films.
Reginald R. Robinson, piano [Encore Broadcast]
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 on September 21, 2017