Performance Today

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Performance Today
Former logo for Performance Today
Genrelive concert selections worldwide
Running time2 hours, daily
Country of originUnited States United States
Home stationAmerican Public Media Saint Paul, MN
Syndicates237 NPR stations
Hosted byFred Child
Recording studioAPM studio at MPR
Original release1987 – present

Performance Today is a Peabody Award-winning classical music radio program, first aired in 1987 and hosted since 2000 by Fred Child. It is the most listened-to daily classical music radio program in the United States, with 1.2 million listeners on 237 stations.[1] The program builds its two-hour daily broadcast (some stations broadcast only one hour) from live concert performances from around the world. Performance Today is based at the American Public Media (APM) studios in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but is frequently on the road, with special programs broadcast from festivals and public radio stations around the country.[2]

In addition to live concert performances, the show airs in-studio performances and interviews. Weekly features include the "Piano Puzzler" with composer Bruce Adolphe.[3]

Through the PT Young Artist in Residence program, the show highlights young soloists from American conservatories who have the potential for great careers. Former Performance Today young artists include pianists Orli Shaham, Jeremy Denk, and Jonathan Biss, guitarist Jason Vieaux, and violinist Colin Jacobsen among many others.[4]


Performance Today was created by National Public Radio (NPR), and went on the air in 1987. The program was founded by NPR vice president for cultural programming Dean Boal, who gave Performance Today its name, and who, along with NPR colleagues Doug Bennet, Jane Couch, Ellen Boal, and retired Baldwin Piano Company president Lucien Wulsin, secured the series' initial funding. NPR produced and distributed the program from Washington, D.C. until 2007. For most of its first two years, under hosts Kathryn Loomans and Liane Hansen, it combined classical music with numerous and wide-ranging arts features. In 1989, the focus shifted exclusively to classical music. Martin Goldsmith then hosted for nearly ten years; he left in October 1999.[5] During Goldsmith's tenure as host the show grew from 40 stations to 230, with weekly listeners reaching 1.5 million. The show won a Peabody Award in 1998.[6]

Fred Child has been the program's host since October 2000.[7] In January 2007, American Public Media took over as the program's producer and distributor and moved the production to Saint Paul, Minnesota.[7] In 2007, the show was awarded the Karl Haas Prize for Music Education by Fine Arts Radio International.[8] And in 2014, Performance Today won a Gabriel Award for artistic achievement.[9]

Piano Puzzler[edit]

The Piano Puzzler is a weekly feature on the show. Every week, composer Bruce Adolphe re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer; a listener then calls in to the show and listens to Bruce play the Puzzler of the week. The listener then tries to do two things: name the hidden tune, and name the composer whose style Bruce is mimicking. The Piano Puzzler is also available as a podcast.[10]

Music is Music[edit]

Music is Music is a Performance Today podcast featuring composers and musicians steeped in the classical tradition, but determined to carve out a home for new music in the 21st century. Each new episode features artists talking about their craft and a sample of their work. Current episodes include conversations with Julia Holter, the Spektral Quartet, Third Coast Percussion, and members of Wilco, Stereolab, and Helado Negro.[11][12]

Young Artists[edit]

Each year, Performance Today invites musicians from top American conservatories to visit the PT studios for a week-long residency. They join host Fred Child in the APM studio to play music, discuss their backgrounds, their ambitions, and what it means to be a musician.[13]

Previous young artists have represented a variety of music schools including the New England Conservatory, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Jacobs School at the Indiana University, the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and The Colburn School. Former Performance Today young artists include pianists Orli Shaham, Jeremy Denk, and Jonathan Biss, guitarist Jason Vieaux, and violinist Colin Jacobsen among many others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "YourClassical from American Public Media". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Performance Today - On the Road". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  3. ^ "Performance Today - Piano Puzzler". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  4. ^ "YourClassical from American Public Media". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  5. ^ "NPR's Martin Goldsmith to Step Down as Performance Today Host" (Press release). National Public Radio. 20 Sep 1999. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  6. ^ 58th Annual Peabody Awards, May 1999.
  7. ^ a b Vivien Schweitzer; Matthew Westphal (10 Nov 2006). "NPR Performance Today Host Fred Child to Follow Program to American Public Media". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  8. ^ 2007 Karl Haas Prize Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "2014 Gabriel Award Winners". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  10. ^ "YourClassical from American Public Media". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Performance Today - Music is Music". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  12. ^ "Music is Music". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Performance Today - Young Artists". Retrieved 2016-03-23.

External links[edit]