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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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.  

Members of the Montréal Symphony Orchestra with pianist Daniil Trifonov

March 18, 2016

According to Martha Argerich, pianist Daniil Trifonov possesses both power and tenderness in his playing style. He joins members of the Montréal Symphony orchestra in a program of chamber music for this Impromptu featuring Rachmaninoff and Mozart live from the Daniel Levin performance studio at WFMT.

Celebrating Piazzolla’s Birthday with Philippe Quint, violin and Marta Aznavoorian, piano

March 11, 2016

Argentine composer, bandoneon player and arranger, Astor Piazzolla, was born on March 11, 1921. Pianist Marta Aznavoorian and violinist Philippe Quint celebrate the occasion by performing music by Piazzolla, as well as selections from Stravinsky, Bach, and Debussy, classical composers who influenced Piazzolla’s characteristic sound. Hosted by Kerry Frumkin.

Jordi Savall, viols and Frank Mcguire, bodhrán

March 3, 2016

Catalan viola da gambist Jordi Savall performs Scottish, English, American, and Irish folk and art music with bodhrán virtuoso Frank McGuire. They are currently touring together, and playing melancholy laments, elegant dances, and lively reels and jigs. Hosted by Kerry Frumkin.  

The Knights

February 19, 2016

The Knights, dedicated to engaging listeners and defying boundaries, showcase their roots in classical tradition alongside their passion for musical discovery. Hosted by Lisa Flynn.  

Chicago A Cappella

February 10, 2016

The words of William Shakespeare are illuminated through innovative and artful music as Chicago A Cappella commemorates the 400-year legacy of the Bard in 2016.

Ian Maksin and Friends

January 21, 2016

Harmonica virtuoso Corky Siegel, guitarist Goran Ivanović, and pianist Ani Gogova collaborate with cellist Ian Maksin in an eclectic program exploring a variety of genres with the cello as a common denominator. They will perform music by Beethoven, Bartók, Bloch, as well as original compositions and arrangements, by Corky Siegel, Ian Maksin, and Goran Ivanović

Yana Reznik, piano and Julian Milkis, clarinet

January 19, 2016

Clarinetist Julian Milkis studied with Benny Goodman. He comes to Chicago for the 75th anniversary performance of the historic premier of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. During this Impromptu, he and pianist Yana Reznik will perform the Brahms Clarinet Sonata No. 2, and Yana will play some piano favorites.  

“Baritones Unbound” at the Royal George Theater

December 17, 2015

Steve Robinson hosts a conversation about Baritones Unbound at the Royal George Theater, produced by Hershey Felder and featuring Nathan Gunn.  

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Brandenburg Concertos

December 17, 2015

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center perform Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 5 and 6  live from the Levin Performance Studio on this Impromptu. Kerry Frumkin hosts.

“The Nutcracker” with the Chicago Philharmonic and Joffrey Ballet

December 1, 2015

Musicians from Chicago Philharmonic and Quintet Attaca perform works by Piazzolla, Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky on this live Impromptu.

Joshua Bell, violin and Sam Haywood, piano

October 23, 2015

Violinist Joshua Bell, the “most perfect interpreter of this generation” (Houston Chronicle), makes his Impromptu debut with pianist Sam Haywood. The duo will perform at Symphony Center on October 30.

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

October 21, 2015

When the musicians of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center perform at the Harris Theater this evening, they will take listeners on a journey from the classical to romantic era. In this Impromptu we will hear music by Barber and Dvořák performed by Wu Han, piano; Michael Brown, piano; Chad Hoopes, violin

Lawrence Brownlee, Tenor

October 6, 2015

Hailed by the Associated Press as one of “the world’s leading bel canto tenors,” American-born Lawrence Brownlee captivates audiences and critics around the world. His voice, praised by NPR as “an instrument of great beauty and expression…perfectly suited to the early nineteenth century operas of Rossini and Donizetti,” has brought him to the top of opera world, ushering in “a ...