From the Top : About

Airs Saturdays at 6 am on WQXR.

Hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley, each one-hour broadcast presents five high-caliber performances along with interviews, sketches and games, revealing the heart and soul behind extraordinary young musicians. Now in its tenth year on air, From the Top is taped before live audiences in concert halls from Boston to Honolulu. Over the years some of the most prominent figures in classical music have appeared alongside young talent on From the Top. These guest artists include Yo-Yo Ma, Hilary Hahn, Bobby McFerrin, Midori, Béla Fleck and many more. Alumni of From the Top are now popping up in the country’s top orchestras and emerging with solo careers.

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Show Archive

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Latest Stories from From the Top

Show 295 | Boston MA

Monday, February 01 2016 10:00 PM

From our home in Boston, this week's program features a 13-year-old violinist whose performance of the music of Robert Schumann beautifully conveys the composer's romantic fervor; we also meet an internationally award-winning young pianist; and a teenage boy shares the humorous story of studying and then rejecting about five different instruments before finally discovering his lifelong soulmate: the French horn.

Show 301 | San Francisco CA

Monday, January 25 2016 10:00 PM

The world-renowned cellist Matt Haimovitz returns to From the Top as the special guest artist of this week's program from the San Francisco Conservatory. With the young performers on the program, Maestro Haimovitz performs a very unusual piece—a children's musical storybook called "Angel Heart"—featuring the internationally best-selling children's author Cornelia Funke as its narrator. And there's still the regular lineup of outstanding young musicians, including a 14-year-old violinist performing one of Sarasate's most spirited show pieces.

Show HL-24

Monday, January 18 2016 10:00 PM

This week's special "Where Are They Now?" episode traces the lives of five different From the Top alums to learn how these young artists are negotiating their lives in their twenties. One alumni guest has just scored the position of Principal Bassoonist for the Chicago Symphony. Another is a lyric soprano working in the opera houses of Germany. One's a touring piano soloist. Each featured alum shares with us a recent musical performance.

Show 208 | Boston MA

Monday, January 11 2016 10:00 PM

From the Top is teaming up with the Boston Children's Chorus to present a special celebration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Join host Christopher O'Riley, young musicians from around the country and the Boston Children's Chorus for an hour of music and personal stories that would make Dr. King smile with pride.

Show 315 | Naples FL

Monday, January 04 2016 10:00 PM

From Naples Florida, this week's program features a highly emotional performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Trio No. 1 in G minor by three teenagers from the Chicago area; a young oboist shares a funny story about how sibling rivalry has fueled his drive for excellence; and the local 14-year-old pianist describes how he raised over twenty-thousand dollars for a nearby children's hospital.

Show 298 | Greenville SC

Monday, December 28 2015 10:00 PM

From Greenville, South Carolina, this week's episode features one of the strongest youth choirs in the "Palmetto State" performing a moving new work by a local South Carolina composer. We'll also meet a euphonium player who performs with the speed and dexterity of a flutist, and we'll enjoy Bach performed by the 13-year-old winner of the Tureck International Bach Competition.

Show 306 | South Bend IN

Monday, December 21 2015 10:00 PM

From the Top comes to you from the premier competition for teenage chamber music in the country this week—The Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. We hear all the adrenaline-filled performances and Christopher O'Riley interviews the young musicians who have made it to the finals as they compete for the gold medal at this amazing gathering.

Show 314 | Orono ME

Monday, December 14 2015 10:00 PM

From Orono, Maine, this week's program features violinist, educator, and composer Mark O'Connor as a special guest artist, and he brings his signature American fiddle sound to some exciting collaborations with the young performers on the show. We'll also hear the inspirational story of how studying music helped the young cellist on the program overcome major physical coordination challenges.

Show HL-23

Monday, December 07 2015 10:00 PM

Featuring nearly twice as much music as From the Top's regular episodes, this "Mostly Music" highlights program celebrates some of the best performances by young people From the Top has presented over the past couple of seasons. We meet a wonderfully quirky 14-year-old cellist, enjoy Mozart performed by a teenager from New York State, and we hear perhaps the strongest teenage baritone From the Top has ever encountered sing the music of Schubert.

Show 313 | Boston MA

Monday, November 30 2015 10:00 PM

From our home in Boston, this week's program features a From the Top alum who's gone on to be the first American pianist since 1966 to win the Silver Medal at the famous International Tchaikovsky Competition. Also we meet a pianist who's just nine years old who not only performs the music of Rachmaninoff with authority¾she also happens to have been an international chess champion.

Show 312 | Big Sky MT

Monday, November 23 2015 10:00 PM

From Big Sky, Montana, this week's program features a young pianist who conjures up a great seascape through his multi-layered performance of the music of Maurice Ravel, a flashy violin showpiece played by a fearless 14-year-old from Santa Fe, and a local trumpet player who¾when she's not practicing scales¾is out running marathons across the Montana landscape.

HL-19 | Podcast

Monday, November 16 2015 10:00 PM

This highlight episode features the favorite pieces of renowned musician Gunther Schuller, performed by From the Top alumni. The show includes the world premiere of a piece Gunther wrote when he was just 19 years old.

Show 311 | Atlanta GA

Monday, November 09 2015 10:00 PM

From Atlanta, Georgia, this week's episode features a thrilling performance by a local public school choir, a 14-year-old cellist performs Tchaikovsky's Pezzo capriccioso with tremendous warmth and spirit, and we'll meet a young organist with a great story of how his devotion to musical scholarship got him into a bit of trouble¾his local library once threatened him with over $2000 in fines for keeping so many musical scores out beyond their due date.

Show 305 | Coral Gables FL

Monday, November 02 2015 10:00 PM

From the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, this week's From the Top features a remarkably bold and confident performance by a 14-year-old violinist from South Florida, a young soprano from New Orleans performing a musical setting of one of Emily Dickinson's poems, and an oboist who, in addition to possessing an enormous library of classical music, is a wonderful teenage spokesperson for the genre.

Show 310 | Aspen CO

Monday, October 26 2015 10:00 PM

From the Top returns to the Aspen Music Festival and School to celebrate the young musicians who gather there to study and perform during the summer. A pianist who's just twelve years old performs the music of Robert Schumann, we'll experience a deeply emotional double bass performance by a young man from Seattle, and we'll hear about a wonderful outreach program called "Back to Bach," founded by a 15-year-old cellist on the program.

Show HL-25

Monday, October 19 2015 10:00 PM

Featuring nearly twice as much music as From the Top's regular episodes, this highlights program celebrates some of the best performances by young people From the Top has presented over the past couple of seasons. An irresistibly charming 11-year-old violinist performs the music of Claude Debussy, a teenage soprano describes her charmed meeting with the great opera diva Renee Fleming, and we'll hear one of the greatest young trumpet players we've ever had on the program perform Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

Shoe 303 | Interlochen MI

Monday, October 12 2015 10:00 PM

This week's From the Top features students studying at one of America's most famous training programs for young musicians—the Interlochen Arts Academy—in rural Michigan. We meet the winners of the Academy's concerto competition, and the mighty Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra performs a world premiere inspired by the story of The Three Musketeers.

Show 309 | Vail CO

Monday, October 05 2015 10:00 PM

From the Bravo! Vail Festival in Vail, Colorado, this week's From the Top features one of the top training orchestras in the United States: The National Repertory Orchestra. We'll enjoy the youthful energy of this ensemble in performances of the music of Falla and Poulenc. Also, a gifted teenage violinist from Washington State shares the moving story of how music transformed her from a completely emotionally shut-down child to a vivacious leader in her youth orchestra.

Show 302 | Denver CO

Monday, September 28 2015 10:00 PM

From Denver, Colorado, this week's episode features a special guest appearance by one of America's finest living film composers, Danny Elfman. Our young musicians perform arrangements of his music from the soundtracks of "Milk" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Mr. Elfman also shares stories from his own colorful teenage years, and a phenomenal 17-year-old from New York performs the music of Lowell Liebermann.

Show 308 | Chataqua NY

Monday, September 21 2015 10:00 PM

From the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, today's show features a virtuosic teenage recorder player (a rare breed in this country) who is not only an amazing musician, but also a formidable researcher of the Baroque era. Also, a 16-year-old pianist performs a Chopin favorite, and a young violinist shares a humorous tale of teenage romance.

Show 304 | Wellesley MA

Monday, September 14 2015 10:00 PM

From Wellesley, Massachusetts, this week's From the Top pays tribute to Jewish composers and Jewish music. A precocious 12-year-old violinist performs the music of George Gershwin; a young tenor performs his own composition inspired by the great twentieth century Jewish poet, Hannah Senesh; and the show's finale features the great sound of Klezmer music.

SHOW 307 | BOSTON MA

Monday, September 07 2015 10:00 PM

In the contemporary spirit of performance trends like Groupmuse in which young performers organize impromptu house concerts to play chamber music, From the Top presents its first "House Concert" from Boston, Massachusetts, and it has a decidedly more intimate feel. A cellist who's just 11 years old performs the music of David Popper, and we meet a teenage classical guitarist who's also a poet, a neuroscience nerd, and a serious skateboarder.

Show 285 | Boston MA

Monday, August 31 2015 10:00 PM

From Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, this week's From the Top celebrates grassroots community music schools — these are the kind of programs that reach out to kids who otherwise might not have any access to musical training. We'll hear an expressive 17-year-old cellist from the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts perform the music of Shostakovich. And we'll meet a phenomenal teenage trombone quartet from one of the greatest urban community music schools in the country - the Merit School of Music in Chicago.

Show 292 | Salem MA

Monday, August 24 2015 10:00 PM

This week's program was recorded at The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and given the show's art museum venue, each young performer discusses a connection between the music they're performing and a work of visual art in the museum's collection. We hear an award-winning string quartet from Chicago perform the music of Bartok, and a teenager from Maryland performs an epic piece on the traditional Chinese instrument, the guzheng.

Show 293 | Purchase NY

Monday, August 17 2015 10:00 PM

From the campus of SUNY Purchase, New York, this week's From the Top features Carnegie Hall's National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. We'll hear this tremendous young ensemble perform works by Bernstein and Gershwin as well as a new piece by Samuel Adams (son of composer John Adams). We'll also hear a young oboist perform the music of Saint-Saëns, and three members of the orchestra join host Christopher O'Riley to perform a movement of Fauré's Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor.

Show 291 | Sidney ME

Monday, August 10 2015 10:00 PM

From the Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney, Maine, this week's From the Top features one of the strongest teenage oboists From the Top has encountered in the past few years performing a gorgeous Élégie by Francis Poulenc; a 14-year-old violinist performs Vieuxtemp's virtuosic showpiece, the Yankee Doodle Variations; and we meet a harpist who shares some wonderful stories about growing up studying music on rugged and rural Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Show 290 | Norfolk VA

Monday, August 03 2015 10:00 PM

From Norfolk, Virginia, this week's episode features a violin-cello duo local made up of two wonderfully talented brothers. Their unusually generous and easygoing humor with each other is not only charming, but it also makes for a seamless musical collaboration. We'll also hear a spirited performance from Mozart's Sonata No. 12 by a pianist who's just 11 years old, and we'll meet a 15-year-old violinist who happens to have some success as an actress: she recently landed a guest role in the new NBC series "Believe."

Show 289 | Seattle WA

Monday, July 27 2015 10:00 PM

From Seattle, Washington, this week's program features a teenage violinist local to the "Emerald City" delivering an emotional performance of the music of Ernest Bloch ... teenagers from Chicago perform a thrilling wild and fun work for sax quartet ... and we'll enjoy the broadcast premiere of a new composition written by an 18-year-old from New York City—an intriguing and ethereal piece titled "Tropholingua," which means "language of plants."

Show 288 | Tacoma WA

Monday, July 20 2015 10:00 PM

From Tacoma, Washington, this episode features Prokofiev's Toccata performed with a level of energy that can only be described as diabolically teenage (the performer is a totally brilliant, risk-taking 15-year-old), we'll hear a young violinist perform a lush and lyrical piece written for her by her father, and we'll enjoy music from a film by the great Japanese animator Hiyao Miyazaki sumptuously arranged for four cellos by one of the young performers on the program.

Show 286 | Cincinatti OH

Monday, July 13 2015 10:00 PM

From Corbett Auditorium in Cincinnati, Ohio, this week's program features one of the strongest pre-collegiate music programs in the country: The Cincinnati Starling Project. Host Christopher O'Riley joins Starling's flagship orchestra to play Mozart; we'll hear a 12-year-old violinist and one of the program's most talented young soloists perform the music of Edward Elgar; and three From the Top alumni return to share their stories of mega success on YouTube and to perform a wonderfully schmaltzy comedic violin trio.

Show 287 | Miami Beach

Monday, July 06 2015 10:00 PM

From Miami Beach, Florida, this week's From the Top features an expressive 13-year-old violinist performing one of Pablo de Sarasate's Spanish Dances, a From the Top alumnus who has gone on to become Principal Flute for Miami Beach's New World Symphony, and a brilliant teenage soprano from Florida who is carrying on the tradition of opera for her family—her mother had a fantastic career performing at New York's Metropolitan Opera and beyond.

Show 300 | Boston MA

Monday, June 29 2015 10:00 PM

From our home in Boston, Massachusetts, this week's episode features an 11-year-old who is not only a precocious violinist, but who also happens to be a budding meteorologist—his long-term forecasts on YouTube are impressively accurate. A young cellist performs the gorgeous Andante movement from Rachmaninoff's Sonata in G minor, and we'll meet a pianist who, at the age of 14, has recorded all of the Opus 25 Chopin piano études.

Show 299 | Montclair NJ

Monday, June 22 2015 10:00 PM

From Montclair, New Jersey, this week's From the Top features the world-renowned Shanghai String Quartet making a special guest appearance. Two lucky teenage performers get the privilege of joining the quartet in a thrilling performance of the music of Johannes Brahms. We'll also listen to the music a young cellist has chosen to populate his playlists on Spotify—playlists cleverly designed to persuade his high school friends to become fans of classical music.

Show 306 | South Bend IN

Monday, June 15 2015 10:00 PM

From the Top comes to you from the premier competition for teenage chamber music in the country this week—The Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. We hear all the adrenaline-filled performances and Christopher O'Riley interviews the young musicians who have made it to the finals as they compete for the gold medal at this amazing gathering.

Show 298 | Greenville SC

Monday, June 08 2015 10:00 PM

From Greenville, South Carolina, this week's episode features one of the strongest youth choirs in the "Palmetto State" performing a moving new work by a local South Carolina composer. We'll also meet a euphonium player who performs with the speed and dexterity of a flutist, and we'll enjoy Bach performed by the 13-year-old winner of the Tureck International Bach Competition.

Show 305 | Coral Gables FL

Monday, June 01 2015 10:00 PM

From the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, this week's From the Top features a remarkably bold and confident performance by a 14-year-old violinist from South Florida, a young soprano from New Orleans performing a musical setting of one of Emily Dickinson's poems, and an oboist who, in addition to possessing an enormous library of classical music, is a wonderful teenage spokesperson for the genre.

Show 297 | Storrs CT

Monday, May 25 2015 10:00 PM

From the University of Connecticut, this week's From the Top includes an emotional performance of Rachmaninoff's Elegie in E-flat minor performed by a young pianist from southern Connecticut, a twelve-year-old violinist brings to life all of the quixotic mood changes in Prokofiev's Sonata for Violin and Piano, and we'll get a dose of teenage musical philosophy from a philosophical sixteen-year-old cellist.

Highlight Show 24

Monday, May 18 2015 10:00 PM

This week's special "Where Are They Now?" episode traces the lives of five different From the Top alums to learn how these young artists are negotiating their lives in their twenties. One alumni guest has just scored the position of Principal Bassoonist for the Chicago Symphony. Another is a lyric soprano working in the opera houses of Germany. One's a touring piano soloist. Each featured alum shares with us a recent musical performance.

Show 296 | Washington DC

Monday, May 11 2015 10:00 PM

From Washington, D.C., this week's program includes one of the youngest performers From the Top has ever featured: an 8-year-old Bolivian American pianist. He performs the music of Haydn with a delightfully infectious sense of freedom and joy. Also, an all-female percussion quartet brings us a mesmerizing piece written by a contemporary composer, and the show concludes with the sheer inspiration of a youth gospel choir.

Show 295 | Boston MA

Monday, May 04 2015 10:00 PM

From our home in Boston, this week's program features a 13-year-old violinist whose performance of the music of Robert Schumann beautifully conveys the composer's romantic fervor; we also meet an internationally award-winning young pianist; and a teenage boy shares the humorous story of studying and then rejecting about five different instruments before finally discovering his lifelong soulmate: the French horn.

Show 294 | Aspen CO

Monday, April 27 2015 10:00 PM

This week's program comes from the Aspen Music Festival and School in Aspen, Colorado, where many of the world's top young musicians come to study during the summer. An outstanding teenage violinist from Shanghai triumphs in his performance of one of the most difficult and virtuosic pieces written for unaccompanied violin, and we'll meet a young flutist with a moving story about being adopted as an 18-year-old into a new family.

Show 303 | Interlochen MI

Monday, April 20 2015 10:00 PM

This week's From the Top features students studying at one of America's most famous training programs for young musicians—the Interlochen Arts Academy—in rural Michigan. We meet the winners of the Academy's concerto competition, and the mighty Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra performs a world premiere inspired by the story of The Three Musketeers.

SHOW HL-15 | HIGHLIGHT SHOW

Monday, April 13 2015 10:00 PM

This week's it's From the Top's Annual Highlights show featuring some of the best music and stories from our archives ... including a fiery performance of the music of Alberto Ginastera performed by a teenage pianist from Florida ... and a young violist humorously lists the Top 10 Worst Things You Can Say After A Performance.

Show 302 | Denver CO

Monday, April 06 2015 10:00 PM

From Denver, Colorado, this week's episode features a special guest appearance by one of America's finest living film composers, Danny Elfman. Our young musicians perform arrangements of his music from the soundtracks of "Milk" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Mr. Elfman also shares stories from his own colorful teenage years, and a phenomenal 17-year-old from New York performs the music of Lowell Liebermann.

Show 304 | Wellesley MA

Monday, March 30 2015 10:00 PM

From Wellesley, Massachusetts, this week's From the Top pays tribute to Jewish composers and Jewish music. A precocious 12-year-old violinist performs the music of George Gershwin; a young tenor performs his own composition inspired by the great twentieth century Jewish poet, Hannah Senesh; and the show's finale features the great sound of Klezmer music.

Show 292 | Salem MA

Monday, March 23 2015 10:00 PM

This week's program was recorded at The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and given the show's art museum venue, each young performer discusses a connection between the music they're performing and a work of visual art in the museum's collection. We hear an award-winning string quartet from Chicago perform the music of Bartok, and a teenager from Maryland performs an epic piece on the traditional Chinese instrument, the guzheng.

Show 279 | Stanford CA

Monday, March 16 2015 10:00 PM

From Stanford University, this week's From the Top features an all-California crew of performers including an extraordinary 12-year-old guitarist from the Bay Area performing the music of Villa-Lobos; the San Francisco Girls Chorus singing a beautiful arrangement of a song from Joni Mitchell's first album; and a funny story about a young pianist who found himself destroying his own piano by practicing too much.

Show 301 | San Francisco CA

Monday, March 09 2015 10:00 PM

The world-renowned cellist Matt Haimovitz returns to From the Top as the special guest artist of this week's program from the San Francisco Conservatory. With the young performers on the program, Maestro Haimovitz performs a very unusual piece—a children's musical storybook called "Angel Heart"—featuring the internationally best-selling children's author Cornelia Funke as its narrator. And there's still the regular lineup of outstanding young musicians, including a 14-year-old violinist performing one of Sarasate's most spirited show pieces.

Show 291 | Sidney ME

Monday, March 02 2015 10:00 PM

From the Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney, Maine, this week's From the Top features one of the strongest teenage oboists From the Top has encountered in the past few years performing a gorgeous Élégie by Francis Poulenc; a 14-year-old violinist performs Vieuxtemp's virtuosic showpiece, the Yankee Doodle Variations; and we meet a harpist who shares some wonderful stories about growing up studying music on rugged and rural Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Show 280 | Wingate NC

Monday, February 23 2015 10:00 PM

From North Carolina, this week's show features the return appearance of a From the Top alumnus who went on to win a top prize at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition this year. He's the first American to become a medalist in over sixteen years. We'll also meet a teenage bassoonist with a beautifully poetic story about the wilderness of New England and how it has moved his heart and shaped his music.