'From The Top' Names New Co-Hosts

Jan 23, 2020

NPR's From The Top listeners this fall will hear two new co-hosts, Tessa Lark and Charles Yang, who studied violin under College-Conservatory of Music instructor Kurt Sassmannshaus.

Lark and Yang are joining Peter Dugan, who has been named permanent host for the 2020-2021 season after serving as guest host the last two seasons.

Kentucky native Tessa Lark debuted with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at age 16.
Credit Courtesy Lauren Desberg

From the Top (9 a.m. Saturday on WGUC-FM), features talented young classical musicians. Dugan first appeared as a musician on the program in 2007, at age 18.

Lark, from Richmond, Ky., made her concerto debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at age 16, and studied with Sassmanhshaus at CCM's Starling Preparatory Strings Project at the University of Cincinnati.  She has appeared with dozens of orchestras, festivals and recital venues, including Carnegie Hall and Amsterdam's Concertgebouw.  

Lark is nominated for a Grammy Award for best classical instrumental solo.   The Grammy Awards will be presented 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26 on CBS (Channel 12).

Yang, born and raised in Austin, Texas, was introduced to the violin at an early age by his parents before studying with Sassmanshaus, Paul Kantor, Brian Lewis and Glenn Dicterow.  He has performed as a soloist with orchestras and in concert in the United States, Europe, Brazil, Russia, China and Taiwan.

Charles Yang studied under College-Conservatory of Music instructor Kurt Sassmannshaus.
Credit Courtesy From The Top

Also named co-hosts with Dugan are violinist Vijay Gupta and clarinetist Alex Laing. Pianist Orli Shaham will solo guest host, according to the From The Top announcement today.

"All will interview and collaborate with the From the Top young musicians. All will also serve as mentors to the From the Top musicians, and will be actively involved in leadership training, community engagement, and career development programs," the announcement said.

Executive director Gretchen Nielsen said in the media release that Dugan's "consummate musical skill, genuine curiosity, and natural rapport with From the Top’s young musicians make him a perfect fit to host From The Top….We look forward to ushering in this new chapter in From the Top’s history as we continue to showcase the stories and talents of today’s extraordinary young musicians.”

“Being a guest host on From the Top these past two seasons has been incredibly rewarding<" Dugan said in the release. "The young musicians inspire me, not just with their dazzling virtuosity, but more importantly, with their sincere artistry and humanity, and their unbridled passion for their craft.

"It meant so much to me to join the From the Top family when I first performed on the show as a teenager. I’m truly honored and humbled now to step into the role of permanent host and, with the help of our brilliant co-hosts and creatives, to continue From the Top’s tradition of empowering the next generation of great musicians by sharing their music and their stories with listeners across the country,” Dugan said.