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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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.

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 ...