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.

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Ronn McFarlane, lute

January 9, 2017

WFMT welcomes GRAMMY-nominated lutenist, Ronn McFarlane to Impromptu.

Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues

January 6, 2017

On a summer evening in 1966, conductor Seiji Ozawa told the blues musicians of Siegel-Schwall, “I’d like your band to sit in with my band…” And so emerged a unique, musical mashup of Blues and Classical. Inspired by Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, William Russo, Mozart, and virtuosity from many cultures, Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues continues to break new ground in ...

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

December 19, 2016

A magnificent ensemble of musicians from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs two of Bach’s Six Concertos for Various Instruments: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049; and Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050.

Lara Downes, Piano

December 8, 2016

Pianist Lara Downes, a 2016 Laureate of the Sphinx Organization Medals of Excellence Award, celebrates the release of her new album America Again, inspired by the Langston Hughes’ poem, “Let America Be America Again.” The album explores music that expresses different facets of the American dream and features music by composers including Duke Ellington, Lou Harrison, Morton Gould, Amy Beach, ...

PigPen Theatre Co.

November 28, 2016

For 25 years, Writers Theatre has presented inventive and intimate interpretations of classic works and contemporary theatre.  Enter PigPen Theatre, the award-winning creators of the WT smash hit The Old Man and The Old Moon, who are back in town with their new musical folktale, The Hunter and The Bear.

Pablo Villegas, guitar

November 1, 2016

The soul of the Spanish guitar runs in Pablo Villegas’s blood. Born and raised in La Rioja, Spain – the country with unique and deep ties to his chosen instrument – Villegas is distinguished by performances as charismatic as they are intimate. We were “muy feliz” to welcome this wonderful musician back to the Levin Studio at WFMT.

Danish String Quartet and Torleif Thedéen, cello

October 27, 2016

In consistent demand for their technical and interpretive prowess matched by an infectious joy of music making and “rampaging energy” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker), the Danish String Quartet has already established a worldwide reputation for their integrated sound, impeccable intonation and judicious balance. The ensemble is joined by fellow Scandinavian Torleif Thedéen, celebrated Swedish cellist, on Schubert’s final masterwork, ...

Calidore String Quartet

October 19, 2016

Gramophone Magazine called the Calidore String Quartet “a miracle of unified thought.” This vibrant, young ensemble won the inaugural 2016 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, which has the largest award of any competition of its kind, and the 2016 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, the first North Americans to be so honored. With Calidore’s return to Impromptu, we’ll hear what has earned them ...

Soprano Albina Shagimuratova

October 4, 2016

Soprano Albina Shagimuratova, joins us for a solo recital. The program includes arias from Lucia, Russian lullabies, and “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Sephardic Journey: The Cavatina Duo with Desiree Ruhstrat, violin and David Cunliffe, cello

September 27, 2016

Eugenia Moliner and Denis Azabagic are a Chicago-based husband-and-wife flute and guitar duo, acclaimed worldwide as the Cavatina Duo. Also a married couple, violinist Desirée Ruhstrat and cellist David Cunliffe are both members of the Lincoln Trio, one of Chicago’s most celebrated chamber ensembles. They will perform excerpts from their album on the Cedille label, “Sephardic Journey,” which consists of ...

Paul Barnes, piano

September 22, 2016

In celebration of twenty years of collaboration with composer Philip Glass including four recordings, publications and commissioning of Glass’s Piano Concerto No.2 (After Lewis and Clark), pianist Paul Barnes, Marguerite Scribante Professor of Music at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has released his twelfth CD “New Generations: The Etudes of Philip Glass and Music ...

Ear Taxi

September 15, 2016

Celebrating New Music in Chicago with 300 musicians and 53 world premieres, the new Ear Taxi music festival will be a celebration of Chicago’s thriving contemporary music scene with concerts, lectures, marathons, webcasts and artist receptions. The Fifth House Ensemble in conjunction with the EAR Taxi Festival is live from the Daniel Levin performance studio at WFMT with works by ...

John Henry Crawford, cello and Victor Santiago Asuncion, piano

September 8, 2016

Hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer for “projecting polished charisma and a singing sound,” cellist John Henry Crawford has a passion for sharing powerful music with audiences near and far. His collaborator today is the wonderful pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion.

Yolanda Kondonassis, harp and Jason Vieaux, guitar

September 1, 2016

Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and guitarist Jason Vieaux are now on tour in support of their latest collaboration, an album featuring two world premieres for the duo. Asked what she loves best about their instrumental combination, Yolanda said it was how the blend and contrast “changes constantly depending on the register, the articulation, and the dynamics.” And you can hear that ...

Pianist Kirill Gerstein

August 10, 2016

Pianist Kirill Gerstein returns to WFMT to herald his new recording of the complete cycle of Liszt’s Transcendental Études. He will also share excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in its 1879 version, which he’ll perform with the Grant Park Music Festival. Tune in to hear Gerstein play the entire concerto in a live broadcast from WFMT on Friday, ...

Michael Ward-Bergeman, hyper-accordion and Lisa Kaplan, piano

July 18, 2016

Michael Ward-Bergeman is a passionate performer, songwriter and composer. His sensitive and creative approach to music making has led to performances and collaborations with an international array of musicians and composers from across a wide range of genres. A virtuoso hyper-accordion player, he returns to Impromptu in the good company of eighth blackbird’s pianist, Lisa Kaplan.  

William Harvey, violin and Steven Ayers, piano

June 23, 2016

Violinist William Harvey along with pianist Steven Ayers present a program of American music by Philip Glass, Reena Esmail, Augusta Read Thomas, Lera Auerbach as well as discussing the question “What is American Culture?” live from the Daniel Levin performance studio at WFMT. Steve Robinson hosts.

Midsummer’s Music Festival

June 14, 2016

The Midsummer’s Music Festival has presented concerts in the Door County area for the past 26 years. Today’s Impromptu will feature five musicians from the series: David Perry, violin; Sally Chisholm, viola; Walter Preucil, cello; Jeremy Attanaseo, bass; and Jeannie Yu, piano, with artistic director Jim Birkenstock live from the Daniel Levin performance studio at WFMT. Kerry Frumkin hosts.

Marc-André Hamelin, piano

May 23, 2016

Pianist Marc-André Hamelin stops by the studio after his Symphony Center recital for a live Impromptu featuring works of Mozart and Samuil Feinberg live from the Daniel Levin performance studio at WFMT. Lisa Flynn Hosts.

Till Fellner, piano

April 26, 2016

Till Fellner stopped by the Levin Performance Studio to record this Impromptu, featuring works by Beethoven and Robert Schumann.