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.
The men of Cantus made their Impromptu debut in 2014 with selections from their recent recording, A Harvest Home. They performed original arrangements of favorite hymns, American folk tunes, and some new compositions as well.
KAIA String Quartet & Fareed Haque, guitar
The members of the KAIA String Quartet devote their artistry to promoting the rich and colorful music of Latin America. In 2018 they joined forces with guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque to perform pieces by Latin American masters.
Miriam Fried, violin & Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Institute
Violinist Miriam Fried leads Ravinia’s summer conservatory, the Steans Music Institute. In this Impromptu from 2012, she collaborates with a group of very talented young musicians.
Celebrating Piazzolla’s Centennial with Marta Aznavoorian, piano & Philippe Quint, violin
Pianist Marta Aznavoorian has performed on WFMT many, many times, with a great variety of colleagues. In 2016, Marta and violinist Philippe Quint stopped by to celebrate the birth anniversary of Ástor Piazzolla, The Argentine composer and bandoneon player was born on March 11, 1921.
tenThing [Encore Broadcast]
In 2017, the ten women of tenThing, the lively brass ensemble led by Norwegian trumpet virtuoso Tine Thing Helseth, spent an afternoon at WFMT. During a lay-over between concerts in California and Virginia, the group performed on Impromptu, then sampled deep-dish pizza before returning to the airport.
Avi Avital, mandolin
On a Winter’s day in 2015, the grammy-nominated, Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital visited Lisa Flynn on Impromptu. Tune in to this encore broadcast to hear his interpretations of works by Bloch, Bach, and Vivaldi.
Kirill Gerstein, piano
The magnificent pianist Kirill Gerstein has a particular affinity for the Transcendental Etudes by Liszt. He played a selection of these difficult, groundbreaking works when he was Lisa Flynn’s guest in August 2016.
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.
Joshua Bell, violin & Sam Haywood, piano
Violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Sam Haywood perform selections by Vitali, Franck, Kreisler, and Brahms in this 2015 Impromptu broadcast.
New Comma Baroque
Hear New Comma Baroque perform rare gems from Carl Friedrich Abel, and Johann Gottfried Mente in this 2018 Impromptu.
Ronn McFarlane, lute
In January 2017, Lisa Flynn welcomed GRAMMY-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane for a live performance on Impromptu.
Back in January 2019, the “unfailingly stylish” (The Strad), and “technically dazzling” (Long Beach Gazette), Trio Céleste performed live on Impromptu.
Goldstein Peled Fiterstein Trio
The Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio plays works by Beethoven and Brahms in this Impromptu Encore from 2014.
Vadim Gluzman, violin & Angela Yoffe, piano
Enjoy violinist Vadim Gluzman and pianist Angela Yoffe‘s interpretations of the Scherzo from Sonata FAE by Brahms, Träumerei by Schumann, and the Figaro Fantasia by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco in this performance from 2009.
Chanticleer is known around the world for the seamless blend of its twelve male voices ranging from countertenor to bass. In December 2012, Carl Grapentine welcomed this “orchestra of voices” for an Impromptu filled with music of the season.
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
During this festive Impromptu from 2015, members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performed a pair of the great Brandenburg Concertos by Bach: No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050, and No. 6 in B-flat major, BWV 1051.
Alisa Weilerstein, cello; Inon Barnatan, piano; and Sergey Khachatryan, violin
Originally broadcast in May 2019, this Impromptu Encore features an outstanding performance of Beethoven’s “Ghost” Piano Trio by violinist Sergey Khachatryan, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and pianist Inon Barnatan.
Benjamin Hochman, piano
Pianist Benjamin Hochman first performed live on Impromptu in 2009. This encore broadcast features his gorgeous renditions of works by Bach, Kurtág, and Brahms.
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.