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.
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.
The magnificent French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard returns to WFMT’s Levin Studio for a live performance on Impromptu. Below watch an excerpt of his performance, or stream the entire performance by clicking “listen.”
George Li, piano
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. WFMT host Lisa Flynn loves George’s debut ...
The Smetana Trio
Founded in 1934, the Smetana Trio is today’s foremost Czech chamber ensemble. With an extensive discography and busy international tour schedule, the group’s current members, pianist Jitka Cechová, violinist Jiří Vodička, and cellist Jan Pálenícek, carry on the virtuosic and interpretational ideals created by their predecessors.
Timothy McAllister, saxophone and Liz Ames, piano
Two-time Grammy Award winning classical saxophonist Timothy McAllister and the renowned pianist Liz Ames have performed as a duo since 2012. As collaborators they have appeared at festivals and chamber music series worldwide. Mr. McAllister and Ms. Ames will release their debut album in 2018, with a second planned for 2019.
United States Coast Guard Saxophone Quartet
The United States Coast Guard Band Saxophone Quartet is in Chicago for the 2017 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. This Impromptu includes music for the holidays.
Music of the Baroque
For more than forty years, Music of the Baroque has celebrated the repertoire of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Their performances and recordings have earned devoted fans in Chicago and around the world. This Impromptu features MOB’s acclaimed brass ensemble in works Giovanni Gabrieli crafted for St. Mark’s in Venice, lively dances by Michael Praetorius, and more.
Eden-Stell Guitar Duo
Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading guitar ensembles, the Eden Stell Guitar Duo ’s chameleon-like ability to communicate in a multitude of styles gives them a uniquely creative, musical voice.
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. We welcome him back to the Levin Studio for this solo performance of his original compositions.
The Fareed Haque & Goran Ivanovich Guitar Duo
Inspired by the rhythms and melodies of flamenco, jazz, classical, rock and the Balkan region, the Fareed Haque & Goran Ivanovic Guitar Duo celebrates the unrivaled guitar artistry of two of the finest players of their respective generations. These virtuosic and musically multi-lingual guitarists have recorded two CDs together, Macedonian Blues and 7 Boats. They don’t often enjoy the opportunity ...
We will have to bring in extra music stands, and maybe stretch the walls of the Levin Studio, because The Knights are returning to WFMT to perform on Impromptu.
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 ...
Drew Petersen, American Pianists Association Competition Winner
The American Pianists Awards are held every four years to discover the best aspiring young American classical pianists. 2017 competition winner Drew Petersen is also a prizewinner in the Leeds International Piano Competition. He has performed solo and concerto recitals in both Europe and the United States, and he makes his WFMT debut with this Impromptu.
Lisa Flynn welcomes the Argus Quartet, the new Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School. The ensemble members – violinists Jason Issokson and violinist Clara Kim, violist Dana Kelley, and cellist Joann Whang – spent the summer honing their craft at Ravinia’s Steans Institute.
Make Music Chicago: KAIA String Quartet
Inspired by the French Fête de la Musique, and held annually on the day of the Summer Solstice, Make Music Chicago is a day-long, citywide, music festival. This year, MMC partners with “Lift Every Voice: Musicians Rising For Racial Justice.” The KAIA String Quartet¸ WFMT’s ensemble-in-residence, will be participating in the festivities. Impromptu broadcasts this performance live.
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
On her new recording, Bel Canto Paganini 24 Caprices and other Works for Solo Violin, Rachel Barton Pine samples the most challenging techniques possible on the violin. And during her performance on Impromptu, she demonstrates the showmanship it takes to perform these virtuosic creations.
Vadim Gluzman, violin, and Angela Yoffe, piano
It’s a busy time for musical couple violinist Vadim Gluzman and pianist Angela Yoffe. The 7th edition of their intimate North Shore Chamber Music Festival takes place June 7, 9 and 10 in Northbrook, Illinois. Then on June 14, Vadim helps the Grant Park Music Festival launch their summer season. He performs the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Grant Park Orchestra under the direction of Carlos Kalmar ...
Inon Barnatan, piano
Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan is known for his compelling and insightful musicianship and elegant virtuosity, and as “a true poet of the keyboard, refined, searching [and] unfailingly communicative” (London’s Evening Standard). After this broadcast, Inon performs George Gershwin’s lively Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jesus Lopez-Cobos.
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 brings his unusual guitar and his unique playing to Impromptu for the first time.
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
The Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet is world-renowned for their stunning precision, rich palette of tone-colors, and joyous music-making. They performed at the Northeastern Illinois University Jewel Box Concert Series. Before that, WFMT welcomed the ensemble to Impromptu.