Relevant Tones

Fridays at 10:00 pm
Relevant Tones

A weekly exploration of the most fascinating time in classical music history: right now.

With composers from nearly every country in the world creating music in diverse styles, there has simply never been a more exciting time for classical music. Relevant Tones creator and host Seth Boustead dives into this treasure trove of music accompanied by first-person interviews, in the field segments that take him to festivals and concert halls around the world, with stellar performances by talented ensembles and soloists.

Look + Listen Festival

April 20, 2018

Relevant Tones is proud to partner with The Look + Listen Festival, an annual event dedicated to presenting contemporary music in contemporary art galleries like Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Brooklyn’s BRIC House and The Studio Museum in Harlem. The festival seeks to expand and engage audiences of 20th and 21st music by providing a unique opportunity to simultaneously experience new music ...

Dealer’s Choice

April 13, 2018

Great music is a game of expertise, luck, and chance. Seth deals out a playlist of great music including David Maslanka and discusses why it’s a winner in this year’s Dealer’s Choice.

Composer Spotlight: Javier Alvarez

April 6, 2018

Mexican composer Javier Alvarez uses his travels to create eclectic electroacoustic works using influences from Mexico to Cuba, the Caribbean to Korea. Composer John Adams said the music of Alvarez “reveals influences of popular cultures that go beyond the borders of our own time and place.”


March 23, 2018

The ever-busy New York-based chamber orchestra The Knights has worked with some of the top composers and musicians in the world including Osvaldo Golijov on a stunning new release of his large scale symphonic work, Azul.  The piece draws on several world music traditions as do the other pieces on the album. We talked to founding violinist and composer Colin ...

Shulamit Ran

March 16, 2018

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Shulamit Ran crafts music of an intimately personal nature, making her one of the most often performed composers of her generation. We’ll talk with Shulamit about her music, the Contempo music series, and her legacy at the University of Chicago, where she was a highly regarded professor for many years.

Composers Among Us: Nicole Lizée

March 9, 2018

JUNO-nominated composer Nicole Lizée creates new music from an eclectic mix of influences including the earliest MTV videos, turntablism, rave culture, Hitchcock, Kubrick, 1960s psychedelia and 1960s modernism. She is fascinated by the glitches made by outmoded and well-worn technology and captures these glitches, notates them and integrates them into live performance. Nicole’s compositions range from works for orchestra and ...

International Women’s Day: 4 Influential Composers and Musicians You Should Know

March 8, 2018

Relevant Tones delves into the world of contemporary music, showcasing a wide variety of composers and musicians. Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day by chatting with four incredible artists that have previously been featured on Relevant Tones and continue to create significant music. Augusta Read Thomas, composer and professor What does classical music mean to you? Since the age of ...

Listening Party 2017

March 2, 2018

We invite some of our favorite musical friends to bring a new recording into the studio for listening, lively discussion and the joy of new discoveries. Seth sits down with violinist Doyle Armbrust and composers Kyong Mee Choi, Nomi Epstein, and Jeff Kowalkowski.

Composer Spotlight: Thomas Adès

February 23, 2018

Since his early teens, Thomas Adès has been a commanding figure in the world of classical music as a triple threat pianist, conductor and composer.  We talk with him about his career including his work at, among others, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, Melbourne and Sydney Symphonies, BBC Symphony, and City of Birmingham Symphony ...

Out of Time

February 16, 2018

Ever since Ezra Pound’s famous advice to young artists, “make it new!” there has been a renewed and relentless interest in breaking new ground in art and music. But what about composers who are genuinely inspired by older forms like fugues, rondos, capriccios, even rags? We’ll feature music by these “composers out of time”.

Video: On Philip Glass’ 81st Birthday, Jenny Lin Plays His Complete Piano Etudes

February 9, 2018

Production company Access Contemporary Music has partnered with the esteemed Manhattan venue, LPR - (Le) Poisson Rouge a multimedia art cabaret founded by musicians on the site of the historic Village Gate. Pianist Jenny Lin is taking the stage for the first in this exciting new series. This concert is celebrating Philip Glass' 81st birthday with a live performance of ...

Visual Aids

February 2, 2018

We’ve always been fascinated here at Relevant Tones with how our perceptions of music change when it’s paired with visual imagery. With that in mind we’re asking several prominent visual artists to suggest imagery to a wide variety of different pieces by living composers. Relax, close your eyes and enjoy the view!

Spotlight: Nick Photinos

January 26, 2018

Founding cellist of Eighth Blackbird, Nick Photinos, will join us in WFMT’s Levin Studio in Chicago to play pieces from his first solo album.  Nick worked with an exciting array of diverse composers on the album including David T. Little, Angélica Négrón, Florent Ghys, Andrew Norman and Bryce Dessner.

Jeremy Gill Concerto BMOP Release

January 19, 2018

Composer Jeremy Gill recently had the opportunity of a lifetime when the Boston Modern Orchestra Project agreed to record not one, not two, but three of his concertos.  We’ll talk with Jeremy and clarinet soloist Chris Grymes about this fantastic new release and play as much of it as we can.

Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab

January 12, 2018

Three-time Grammy winning super group Eighth Blackbird unveils their newest creative project: “to inspire the next generation of performers and composers to share in the ensemble’s vision: to champion a distinctive, dynamic and engaging performance aesthetic.”  We’ll talk to the birds and this year’s participants and bring you into the creative process as the lab comes to life.

World Music Days: Vancouver Part II

January 5, 2018

This is the second program featuring the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) which holds arguably the world’s most important contemporary music festival in a different city each year.  Much like the Olympics, cities bid to be the host and this year it’s in Vancouver.  In this first program of two, we hear from Fredrik Gran, Fredrick Neyrinck, and violinist, Müge Buyukcelen.

World Music Days: Vancouver Part 1

December 29, 2017

The International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) holds arguably the world’s most important contemporary music festival in a different city each year.  Much like the Olympics, cities bid to be the host and this year it’s in Vancouver.  In this first program of two, we hear from Jordan Nobles, Charlotte Bray, Jocelyn Morlock, and Stefan Prins. 

Kontras in Levin Performance Studio!

December 22, 2017

A WFMT special broadcast of Ensemble-in-Residence Kontras Quartet on Relevant Tones. Kontras Quartet has been blending the line between classical and folk music since 2009. On this program we'll hear a Folk inspired repertoire from South Africa to Japan back home to the Midwest.   

New Sounds from Europe

December 15, 2017

We team up with the European Broadcasting Union to bring recent concert events and interviews from some of the brightest musical lights on the continent to our listeners back home. *Check your local listings for airdate. This program is unable to be streamed on-line due to right terms.

Gender Identity in Music

December 8, 2017

One of the most important new developments in contemporary classical music is part of a wider societal trend of gender fluidity. We talk with three composers who have transitioned about their music before and after, and their personal experiences.