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 (Updated February 7, 2019) – 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 Charles Yang with pianist Peter Dugan | Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 7:00 PM | Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek, Colorado | Tickets and information | Airs week of February 18, 2019

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Lawrence Gilliard Jr. | Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 2:00 PM | Celebrating 125 years of Walnut Hill School for the Arts | New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, Boston, Massachusetts | Tickets and information | Airs week of March 11, 2019

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Damon Gupton with pianist Michelle Cann | Friday, March 15, 2019 at 7:30 PM | Corson Auditorium, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Michigan | Tickets and information | Airs week of May 6, 2019

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Leila Josefowicz with pianist Michelle Cann | Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 3:00 PM | Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts | Tickets and information | Airs week of May 20,  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 June 3, 2019

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Vijay Gupta with pianist Michelle Cann | 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 17, 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

NPR’s From the Top, hosted by Simone Dinnerstein| Saturday, June 8, 2019 at 7:30 PM | Performing Arts Center Recital Hall at Texas State University | Presented by Texas State International Piano Festival| Tickets and information | National Air Date TBD

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 made her orchestral  debut at age 14 and has since performed with various well-known orchestras throughout the US and abroad. She recently 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 Intelligencer  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 Diplom a from the Curtis Institute of  Music in Philadelphia.

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.

American pianist Simone Dinnerstein first attracted attention in 2007 with her self-produced recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. It was a remarkable success, reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart and establishing Dinnerstein’s distinctive and original approach. Her career has since taken her around the world from Brazil to Japan, and she has released eight albums with repertoire from Beethoven to Ravel. Dinnerstein spent 2018 touring Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a work that he wrote for her as a co-commission by twelve orchestras. Dinnerstein released Mozart in Havana in 2017, recorded in Cuba with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. Also in 2017, she collaborated with choreographer Pam Tanowitz to create New Work for Goldberg Variations, which was on the year-end top ten lists of critics at the New York Times and Boston Globe.


About From the Top

Based in Boston, From the Top is an independent non-profit organization that supports, develops, and shares the artistic voices and stories of young classically-trained musicians. Its national platform and leadership programs amplify the hope, passion, and discipline of today’s extraordinary young musicians.

From the Top provides young musicians with live performance opportunities in premier concert venues across the country; national exposure to over a half million listeners on its weekly NPR show; leadership and community engagement preparation; and nearly $3 million in scholarships since 2005.

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. Learn more at

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