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.


November 18, 2016

It’s quite common in academia, journalism and literature for two authors to team up to write an article or book but significantly less so in music.  Still, it does happen and the results are often fascinating.  Where does one idea start and the other continue?  How do two composers work together to write a seamless piece?

Flora & Fauna

November 11, 2016

Not surprisingly, the natural world is a never-ending source of fascination and inspiration for composers. From the datura plant in southern China to a rare bird in the wilds of Australia to strange animals that exist only in the composer’s imagination, we’ll feature music inspired by the boundless creativity of nature.

Drum Kit: Problem Child

November 4, 2016

It’s essentially just a conveniently placed grouping of popular percussion instruments and yet, the drum kit is often cited as the dividing line between popular music and classical. We’ll examine how composers are using the drum kit today and what impact it’s having on genre boundaries.

In the Field: Warsaw Autumn Part II

October 28, 2016

The second part in our two-part feature of the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music includes interviews with composers, performers and organizers of the event and more audio performances recorded live in the concert halls of Warsaw.

In the Field: Warsaw Autumn Part I

October 21, 2016

Since its beginning in 1956 the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music, for many years the only festival of its kind in Eastern Europe, has presented new music by leading Polish composers and composers from around the world.  Today it is one of the most prestigious contemporary music festivals in the world and we are honored to have the ...

Composer Spotlight: Zygmunt Krauze

October 14, 2016

Polish composer, concert pianist and educator Zygmunt Krauze is a hugely respected figure on the international contemporary music scene and the recipient of numerous honors including the French National Order of the Legion of Honour among many others. We’ll play selections from his music and talk with him about his storied career.

Musical Delights

October 7, 2016

After discovering Sebastian Huydts’s newest album, Delicias de Blancanieves, Seth is sharing his newest ‘delights’. We’ll share selected works of Huydt, Caroline Eyck, and Johann Johannson and more with you.

The Art of Spoken Word

September 30, 2016

It takes fine craftsmanship to achieve a perfect partnership between text and music in which neither element overshadows the other. This week, we’ll listen to a fascinating array of spoken word and music by composers like Aaron Jay Kernis, Joseph Schwantner, David Lang, and more who are striving to achieve this symmetry.


September 23, 2016

Crossover between classical and rock musicians was common in the 1970’s but has taken a bit of a break until recently. Now instead of composers influencing rock musicians like Brian Eno, a rock band is having a huge influence on a diverse array of composers around the globe. The music of Radiohead has been arranged by countless composers and has ...

Extra Tones: Setting Records

September 22, 2016

If you enjoyed our episode “Contemporary Vinyl,” here is something extra! Why is releasing music on vinyl an upward trend currently? Just what is it that makes vinyl so incredible? In this podcast we explore these questions and dive into how exactly vinyl is made. Special thanks to Peter McDowell and Eighth Blackbird, Julia Nicols-Corry from Cedille Records, Bob Weston ...

Contemporary Vinyl

September 16, 2016

Old is new again as composers and performers return to the LP format for their latest releases. We’ll dust off our record player to feature a variety of new music released on vinyl.

Soundward: What’s New from Cantaloupe Music

September 9, 2016

Another episode in our ongoing series of conversations with Phil Kline from Q2 Music features a typically eclectic lineup of new releases that we think should be on your radar.

The Ear Taxi Festival: A Preview

September 2, 2016

Chicago is rapidly becoming known as one of the country’s premiere cities for contemporary music and the Ear Taxi festival aims to showcase this great work. We’ll choose the highlights from the festival’s ambitious lineup of 300 musicians, 75 composers, 25 ensembles, and 53 world premieres

Ambient Environments

August 26, 2016

Composers like Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Bartók and have sought to musically depict their environs for centuries. How are landscapes, both urban and pastoral, being represented musically today? We’ll hear composer’s portrayals of locations like David Sampson’s Grant Park in Chicago, the surrounding islands of Australia from Peter Sculthorpe, Michael Daughterty’s George Washington from Mount Rushmore and more.

Extra Tones: Computing to Composing

August 22, 2016

Extra Tones is a new podcast series featuring exclusive content that is not featured in our show, Relevant Tones. The podcast is produced by Relevant Tones reporter, Bea Aldrich. In this first episode, we explore how exactly composing software, such as Sibelius and Finale music notation software has changed the way in which composers compose music. This is inspired by ...

Rebroadcast: Robert Lombardo

August 19, 2016

Robert Lombardo’s sixty years of compositions has made an extraordinary mark on the Chicago contemporary classical music scene. Relevant Tones on WFMT is remembering the late Kathleen Lombardo, whose poems inspired and are frequently the texts of many of Robert’s compositions.

Tickling the Ivories

August 12, 2016

All music written for and adapted for piano. Seth features sneak previews upcoming releases from Bridge Records, including the latest Etudes from David Rakowski to new recordings from the acclaimed piano duo Quattro Mani. Hear the exotic sounds of an etude for talking piano to a piece featuring the unusual piano-like instrument, the celesta.  

String Quartet Plus…

August 5, 2016

Ever since its creation by Haydn in the 18th century, the string quartet has been one of the preeminent vehicles for more musical innovation. This show features new directions for the string quartet, pairing the quartet with unusual other instruments like frame drum, alto flute and more.

Musical Mythology

July 29, 2016

Seth talks with composer Stacy Garrop about the new recording of her Mythology Symphony inspired by Greek myths. Starting with the exhilarating piece Becoming Medusa, which tells the story of Medusa, a beautiful woman turned into a hideous monster, to the quiet sounds of Penelope Waits, the touching tale of a wife waiting for her heroic husband, and much, much ...

Remembering Einojuhani Rautavaara

July 28, 2016

The great Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara died on July 27, 2016.  He was easily the best-known and widely considered the greatest Finnish composer of his generation and he was the last living link to Jean Sibelius. We were lucky enough to interview him in his home in 2014 for the program In the Field: Finland. In light of his recent passing, we, here ...