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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Drew Petersen, American Pianists Association Competition Winner

July 27, 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.

Argus Quartet

July 11, 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.

Make Music Chicago: KAIA String Quartet

June 21, 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.

Rachel Barton Pine, violin

June 13, 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.

Vadim Gluzman, violin, and Angela Yoffe, piano

May 30, 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 ...

Inon Barnatan, piano

May 23, 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.

Paul Galbraith, guitar

May 4, 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.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

April 21, 2017

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.


March 21, 2017

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.

Ben Lowe, baritone and Madeline Slettedahl, piano

March 14, 2017

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.

M5 Mexican Bras

March 9, 2017

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 ...

American String Quartet with Salman Rushdie and Paul Cantelon

February 24, 2017

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.

Joseph Calleja

February 14, 2017

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.

Imani Winds

January 19, 2017

Extolled by the Washington Post as “exuding a sultry sophistication during performances”, Imani Winds has carved a unique path with its dynamic playing and culturally poignant programming. We’re very happy to welcome the wind quintet back to Impromptu, and congratulate the ensemble on their two-year appointment as the Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Chicago.

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.