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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Make Music Chicago: KAIA String Quartet

June 21, 2017

      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.

Rachel Barton Pine, violin

June 13, 2017

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.

Vadim Gluzman, violin, and Angela Yoffe, piano

May 30, 2017

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.

Inon Barnatan, piano

May 23, 2017

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.

Paul Galbraith, guitar

May 4, 2017

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 ...

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

April 21, 2017

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.


March 21, 2017

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 ...

Ben Lowe, baritone and Madeline Slettedahl, piano

March 14, 2017

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.

M5 Mexican Bras

March 9, 2017

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.

American String Quartet with Salman Rushdie and Paul Cantelon

February 24, 2017

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.

Joseph Calleja

February 14, 2017

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.

Imani Winds

January 19, 2017

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 ...

Ronn McFarlane, lute

January 9, 2017

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.

Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues

January 6, 2017

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.

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

December 19, 2016

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.

Lara Downes, Piano

December 8, 2016

The ten women of tenThing, the lively and distinctive Norwegian brass sensation, spent a day in Chicago as they made their way from concerts in California to performances in Virginia. In addition to sampling our city’s famous deep-dish pizza, they visited WFMT’s studios to perform on Impromptu.

PigPen Theatre Co.

November 28, 2016

Baritone Ben Lowe and pianist Madeline Slettedahl, laureates of the prestigious Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition, make their Chicago recital debut with this performance on Impromptu.

Pablo Villegas, guitar

November 1, 2016

Since its founding in 2005, M5 MEXICAN BRASS has established itself as Mexico’s leading brass quintet. Combining their skills performing virtuosic chamber music in all styles with non-stop interaction with the audience and impressive showmanship, the musicians of M5 create unique musical-theatrical experiences. As one of Mexico’s most active cultural ambassadors, the group has been touring the US and Canada ...

Danish String Quartet and Torleif Thedéen, cello

October 27, 2016

The American String Quartet premieres a new work by Paul Cantelon at the University of Chicago. It’s based on Salman Rushdie’s 2008 novel, The Enchantress of Florence, with the venerable author reading excerpts amidst the music.

Calidore String Quartet

October 19, 2016

Join us for a special Valentine’s Day Impromptu featuring Joseph Calleja. The Maltese tenor is back in Chicago to sing the role of Don José in the Lyric Opera’s production of Bizet’s Carmen.