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.
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
Anderson & Roe Piano Duo [Encore Broadcast]
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.
Chamber Music Chicago [Encore Broadcast]
Founded in 2019, Chamber Music Chicago presents gems of the chamber repertoire as performed by some of today’s leading artists. Violinists Janet Sung and David Bowlin, violist Ann Marie Brink, and cellists Peter Stumpf and Michael Mermagen performed Schubert’s String Quintet in D Major, live on Impromptu on October 4, 2019.
Yolanda Kondonassis, harp and Jason Vieaux, guitar [Encore Broadcast]
We asked harpist Yolanda Kondonassis what she loves best about her instrumental collaboration with guitarist Jason Vieaux. She said it was how the blend and contrast “changes constantly depending on the register, the articulation, and the dynamics.” The duo performed live on Impromptu on September 1, 2016, prior to their recital at Ravinia.
Till Fellner, piano [Encore Broadcast]
Back in 2016, Austrian pianist Till Fellner performed Mozart’s sunny Piano Concerto No. 22 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and former CSO Principal Conductor Bernard Haitink. We are delighted to present this Impromptu Encore with Till Fellner from April 26, 2016.
Michael Barenboim + The West-Eastern Divan Ensemble [Encore Broadcast]
Since 1999, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has brought together Arab and Israeli musicians as a means to defy fierce political divides in the Middle East and globally. Concertmaster Michael Barenboim leads the newly-formed West-Eastern Divan Ensemble, and on February 20, 2020 that fantastic group of chamber players performed the Mendelssohn Octet, live on Impromptu.
The Knights [Encore Broadcast]
Back on August 18, 2017, we had to bring in extra music stands, and even considered stretching the walls of the Levin Studio. That’s because the magnificent orchestra, The Knights, returned to WFMT’s Levin Studio to perform live on Impromptu.
Paul Huang, violin & Marta Aznavoorian, piano [Encore Broadcast]
On July 19, 2018, violinist Paul Huang was in Chicago to make his Grant Park Music Festival debut. First though, the recipient of the prestigious 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 2017 Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists performed on Impromptu with pianist Marta Aznavoorian.