From the Top Announces Guest Artist lineup for 2018–2019 National Tour

Live recordings of popular NPR classical music show will feature a variety of hosts, co-hosts, and guest artists

Boston, Massachusetts (September 6, 2018) – From the Top, the nationwide program distributed by NPR that showcases young classical musicians, announced today the lineup of renowned artists who will host, co-host, or appear as special guests on live concert recordings during the 2018–2019 season.

Among the notables joining the program this year are jazz legend Fred Hersch, pianist Orli Shaham, Food Network host Molly Yeh, actor and conductor Damon Gupton, violinist Leila Josefowicz, and pianist Jeremy Denk.

The popular one-hour program, airing on more than 200 radio stations nationwide, features stories and performances by America’s best young classical musicians. The 2018–2019 recording season will be the first without long-time host Christopher O’Riley, who made his last recording on June 5, 2018.

“We are excited to work with and welcome to our new season this incredible lineup of remarkable artists, many of whom are From the Top alumni” said Gretchen Nielsen, From the Top’s Executive Director. “Their backgrounds and musical perspectives are a truly wonderful reflection of From the Top’s legacy in the classical music and entertainment industries.”

The 2018–2019 season lineup currently includes:

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Peter Dugan | Sunday, September 9 at 7:30 PM | Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania | Tickets and information | Airs week of November 3, 2018

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Yuga Cohler with special guest Fred Hersch | Sunday, October 14 at 2:00 PM | Jordan Hall, Boston, Massachusetts | Tickets and information | Airs week of November 26, 2018

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Orli Shaham | Wednesday, October 17 at 7:30 PM | Studzinski Recital Hall, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine | Tickets and information | Airs week of December 17, 2018

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Molly Yeh with pianist Peter Dugan | Saturday, November 17 at 8:00 PM | University of Connecticut Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, Storrs, Connecticut | Tickets and information | Airs weeks of December 31, 2018 and January 28, 2019 (Two episodes will be recorded November 17, hence two separate air dates)

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Damon Gupton | Friday, March 15, 2019 at 7:30 PM | Corson Auditorium, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Michigan | Tickets and information | Airs week of April 22, 2019

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Leila Josefowicz with pianist Michelle Cann | Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 3:00 PM | Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts | Tickets and information coming soon | Airs week of May 6,  2019

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Lara Downes | Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 5:00 PM |The Breman Museum, Atlanta, Georgia| Tickets and information | Airs week  of May 27, 2019

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Vijay Gupta | Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 8:00 PM  | The Conrad, La Jolla, California | Presented by La Jolla Chamber Music Society |Tickets and information | Airs week  of June 10, 2019

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Jeremy Denk | Saturday, May 25, 2019 at 8:00 PM | Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire | Tickets and information | Airs week  of September 2, 2019

Additional live concert recording dates and guest hosts will be announced at a later date.

Artist bios:

Pianist Peter Dugan appeared on From the Top in 2007 at the age of 18. Over the last 11 years, he’s appeared as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician across North America and abroad. Equally at home in classical, jazz, and pop idioms, Peter has performed in duos and trios with artists ranging from Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell to Jesse Colin Young and Glenn Close. His debut last year with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony was described by the Los Angeles Times as “stunning.” He is a founding creator and the pianist for Operation Superpower, a superhero opera program for children.


Orchestral conductor Yuga Cohler appeared on From the Top multiple times in his youth, and is the music director of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. A musical innovator, Cohler is a creator of Yeethoven, an orchestral comparison of the works of Kanye West and Beethoven that was presented by Lincoln Center in January 2018 and received coverage from such outlets as TIME magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Rolling Stone. He has appeared in concert with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Juilliard Orchestra, and the Aspen Music Festival and was music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Chamber Orchestra from 2015 to 2018. Cohler was a prizewinner at the Toscanini International Conducting Competition.


A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist. A twelve-time Grammy Award nominee, he continues to earn jazz’s most prestigious awards, including recent distinctions as a 2016 Doris Duke Artist, 2016 and 2018 Jazz Pianist from the Jazz Journalists Association and the 2017 Prix Honorem de Jazz from L’Acádemie Charles Cros for the totality of his career.


Orli Shaham has established an impressive international reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists. The New York Times called her a “brilliant pianist”; Ms. Shaham is admired worldwide for her interpretations of both standard and modern repertoire. Ms. Shaham’s interactive concert series for young children, Baby Got Bach, founded in 2010, is recognized by parents, media and the music community as a significant force in music education and entertainment for preschoolers.


Molly Yeh appeared as a percussionist on From the Top at age 18 in 2007. Since then, she plays with food more than mallets, and has established herself as one of the top food bloggers and authors in America. A Juilliard graduate, Ms. Yeh’s Food Network show, Girl Meets Farm, premiered on June 24, and her first book, Molly on the Range, was named one of the best cookbooks for fall 2016 by The New York Times.


Lara Downes is among the foremost American pianists of her generation, an iconoclast dedicated to expanding the resonance and relevance of American music for diverse audiences. A trailblazer on and off-stage, she follows a musical roadmap that seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory. Downes’s playing has been called “ravishing” by Fanfare Magazine; “luscious, moody and dreamy” by The New York Times; and “addicting – Downes plays with an open, honest heart;” by the Huffington Post.


Vijay Gupta is a violinist, speaker and advocate for artistic voices in social issues. At 19, he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and in 2011, as a TED Senior Fellow, he co-founded Street Symphony, an organization bringing music, dialogue and storytelling to communities experiencing homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles. Alex Ross of The New Yorker says Gupta is “one of the most radical thinkers in the unradical world of American classical music. With Street Symphony, he has created a formidable new model for how musical institutions should engage with the world around them.”


Actor Damon Gupton, known for appearing in TV series including Criminal Minds, Bates Motel and Black Lightning, as well as films such as La La Land and Whiplash, is also an accomplished orchestral conductor. He studied conducting with David Zinman and Murry Sidlin at the Aspen Music Festival and with Leonard Slatkin at the National Conducting Institute in Washington, D.C. Mr. Gupton has made conducting appearances with the Detroit Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others.


Leila Josefowicz is a passionate advocate of contemporary music for the violin. She frequently collaborates with leading composers and works with orchestras and conductors at the highest level around the world. In 2008 she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, joining prominent scientists, writers and musicians who have made unique contributions to contemporary life.


Concert pianist and From the Top alumna Michelle Cann is a young artist with a deep musical commitment to performing a wide range of repertoire and bringing the arts to local communities. She is the founder of “Keys to Connect,” which strives to strengthen the bond between parent and child through the shared study of piano. Hailing from Avon Park, Florida, Michelle made her orchestral  debut at age 14 and has since performed with various well-known orchestras  throughout the US and abroad including the Florida Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, and on the Green Umbrella Series of the Los Angeles Philharmonic on tour in London.  Michelle recently soloed with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in New York City, an organization whose purpose is to bring to the forefront those female and minority composers too long lingering in the background of American music.  She performed the New York City premiere of Concerto in One Movement by composer Florence Price, the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer.  Her performance was well received by the audience and press alike.  The  Boston Musical Intelliger  wrote “Michelle Cann…was a compelling, sparkling virtuoso, bringing this riveting work to life in its first New York performance”  Michelle received her Bachelor and Master degrees in piano performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music  and an Artist Diploma  from the Curtis Institute o f Music in Philadelphia. Soon after,  she was placed on the Curtis staff as one of the new Collaborative Staff Pianists.  In addition, Michelle is on the faculty of the Luzerne Music Center as a Coordinator/Instructor of Piano.


Jeremy Denk is one of America’s foremost pianists. Winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and the Avery Fisher Prize, Denk was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Denk returns frequently to Carnegie Hall and in recent seasons has appeared with the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra, as well as on tour with Academy St. Martin in the Fields, and at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms.


About From the Top

From the Top is America’s largest national platform celebrating the stories, talents, and character of classically-trained young musicians. Through live events, NPR and YouTube broadcasts, scholarships, and leadership programs, From the Top empowers these extraordinary young people to engage and inspire music lovers of all ages.

From the Top’s radio program is made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. It is also supported through the generous contributions of individuals and institutions as well as public radio stations. From the Top is an independent non-profit organization proudly based in Boston’s vibrant cultural district. Learn more at www.fromthetop.org.

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