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.

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Wilco’s Glenn Kotche Goes Classical

May 26, 2017

Called one of the best drummers of all time by Gigwise magazine, Kotche is also a talented and multi-faceted composer who has worked with powerhouse groups like eighth blackbird, So Percussion and Kronos Quartet.


May 19, 2017

Since the Mozarts and the Chopins, to Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland the composer-pianist is easy to trace through time. Now, in the 21st century, there is a resurgence in the tradition. Relevant Tones is examining the diverse composer-performer community from Philip Glass to Yiruma.

Music of Math

May 12, 2017

Though it’s definitely not true of all composers, many have a facility and fascination with math. We’ll talk to several composers who use math in their compositions and find out how this affects the resulting music. Is it all cerebral? What is the balance between emotional expression and mathematical precision?

Boulez Notations

May 5, 2017

In his Notations, Pierre Boulez composed twelve short piano miniatures that contain a cosmos of sound and potentiality. After decades at the helm of the avant-garde, Boulez has set to work unlocking those inner possibilities through thoughtful orchestration and elaboration. Click here for more information on Pierre Boulez

Soundward: New Hits

April 28, 2017

Q2 Music’s Phil Kline joins us to chat about music that hits a chord. The newest recordings that are certain to become a classic.

Late Night at National Sawdust

April 21, 2017

Podcast and live radio collide in an evening of music inspired by fractals, dynamic systems, feedback loops and nature. Open G Records and Access Contemporary Music present: Caroline Mallonee‘s Butterfly Effect, a string quartet inspired by the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in Australia could cause a tornado in Texas, Chin Ting Chan’s gorgeously abrasive Fractals, Lyudmila German’s nod to ...

Gabriel Prokofiev

April 14, 2017

London-based DJ, composer and entrepreneur Gabriel Prokofiev talks with Seth Boustead about composing and performing for a 21st century audience, family legacies, and the use of sampling in classical music. Prokofiev worked with hip-hop turntablist DJ Yoda on the piece Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra. Prokofiev talks about working with DJ Yoda and incorporating the live orchestra into hip-hop like samples.

Composer Spotlight: Chinary Ung

April 7, 2017

Cambodian composer Chinary Ung came to the U.S. to study clarinet and composition but was forced to stay when the Khmer Rouge uprising broke out in his home country killing millions.  Over the years he has helped many family members and friends escape that regime and has documented his struggles in music.

Extra Tones: Music of Migration

April 5, 2017

Extra Tones is a podcast that goes deeper into subjects covered on Relevant Tones. In The Accordion, Seth explored composers who are writing new music for the accordion. Traditionally thought of as a European folk instrument, The Music of Migration tells the story of how accordion music has evolved as it’s traveled with immigrants to North America. Styles have blended and ...

Love and Heresy

March 31, 2017

We had the distinct pleasure of attending two recent opera premieres, the World Premiere of Heresy in Dublin by Roger Doyle and the Met’s premiere of L’Amour de Loin by acclaimed composer Kaija Saariaho. Both operas explore universal themes in strikingly different ways, from Doyle’s setting of the infamous heresy trial of Giordano Bruno, to Saariaho’s mythic setting of idealized love. We’ll hear from Eric Fraad, the ...

Soundward: Old Faves New Raves

March 24, 2017

Soundward is a collaboration between Relevant Tones host Seth Boustead and Q2 music host Phil Kline in which the pair sit down and listen to new music releases. The show begins with a piece from the late New York composer, Julius Eastman. Although he was relatively unknown outside of the New York City music community in the 1970s, reissues of ...

Composer Champions

March 17, 2017

Where would Gustav Mahler be without the incredible support of Leonard Bernstein?  Bach without the support of Mendelssohn?  Being championed by a famous performer or conductor is an incredible leg up to the career of many composers.  Who are the modern day composer champions, and whose work are they promoting?

Listening Party

March 10, 2017

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.

Music for International Women’s Day

March 8, 2017

We’ve had the privilege of speaking with incredible women in contemporary music over the last few years. Our program celebrates the diverse composers and performers who are expanding the definitions of classical music. We celebrate International Women’s Day today by highlighting clips from previous interviews. Full shows are linked to each composer of performers name. ERROLLYN WALLEN Errollyn Wallen is ...

Composer Spotlight: James Matheson

March 3, 2017

With important commissions from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic among others, and a new and highly praised album release, James Matheson has established a reputation as a composer of finely tuned, individualistic music with wide ranging appeal.  We’ll chat with him about his career and play his music.

The Atlanta School

February 24, 2017

Conductor Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have created a thriving community of composers who have come to be known as “The Atlanta School”. They include Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Theofanidis, Osvaldo Golijov, and Michael Gandolfi, and this week we’ll listen to their music.

Soundward: Finding New Voices

February 17, 2017

It’s a format as old as time: two guys sit down to play music and talk about it.  Soundward, a continuing collaboration between Relevant Tones and Q2 Music, features lively conversation, new releases from composers around the globe and interesting new discoveries.   Phil Kline is a composer and hosts a two-hour show weekdays at 11am – with repeat presentations at 7 ...

Joseph Schwantner

February 10, 2017

A master of orchestral timbre and an ardent individualist, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Joseph Schwantner has been one of the most prolific composers in the 20th and 21st centuries. He visits our studios to talk about his life and music.

The Accordion

February 3, 2017

Once relegated solely to the status of folk instrument, the accordion is being used more and more by composers around the world in a stunning variety of different musical contexts.  We’ll feature music for this storied instrument and talk to a few of the composers about how it inspired them.

Crossing Barriers

January 27, 2017

A big trend in the 2000’s saw contemporary music ensembles commissioning composers not to write new pieces for them but to arrange music by pop artists. We’ll listen to music from two such collaborations: Alarm Will Sound performing arrangements of electronic musician Aphex Twin and Osso Quartet’s arrangements of indie pop superstar Sufjan Stevens.

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 ...

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.