Give pianist Gabriela Montero a phrase or two from a song and she'll make an on-the-spot improvisation.
Gabriela Montero is a world-class concert pianist who records for a major classical label. But her musical tastes range far beyond Beethoven and Brahms, and it shows when she plays encores.
Montero asks audience members to sing her a tune — just a snippet. Then, she immediately improvises a tune around it. Typically, her creative, off-the-cuff inventions take flight into Bach, boogie-woogie and beyond.
Occasionally, Montero pays a visit to NPR's studios to try something similar. With Performance Today host Fred Child, Montero fields phone calls from listeners who sing her a tune, and she concocts an instant improvisation.
On this edition of Sing It and Wing It, Montero meets Laura Wolf-Powers, who reminisces about her college days in a Balkan choir group. She sings a folk tune about a song contest between a village girl and a nightingale.
'Sing It and Wing It' is a production of NPR and American Public Media.