Today’s On Being

I’ve written before about the Radio Show On Being with Krista Tippett, which is far and away my favorite audio source for inspiration. It’s a remarkable show.

In September I made a list of my favorite episodes, but I have a feeling that there’s going to be a new favorite released today. Here’s the story.

About a year ago, around Alice’s 90th birthday, I sent the following letter to the producers of On Being in the hopes that they would at least be aware of Alice and consider her as a future guest. Now, a year later, it’s come to pass!

I don’t take any credit for the gift we’re all receiving today from Alice and Krista: I’m just glad to have helped to get them into the same room.

Here’s On Being’s website, and you can subscribe to the podcast here via iTunes. This week’s podcast should be posted sometime today. I suggest first listening to their produced 1-hour radio format, then following up with the unedited conversation (usually around 90 minutes).

Here’s the letter I wrote on December 4, 2015:


Krista Tippett’s conversations are always inspiring and often remarkable. Those are two words I would use to describe living choral legend Alice Parker.

Ms. Parker turns 90 in December; during her life she has been a leading light in the worlds of choral music and hymnary. She has composed and arranged hundreds and hundreds of pieces for voices; she is perhaps best known for her two decade collaboration with the Robert Shaw Chorale. She has set many great American poems, and her works include an opera on which she collaborated with Eudora Welty. Much of her current work revolves around helping communities to find their voice through song.

Recently, she has written several books that speak to a deep philosophy about singing and song: Anatomy of Melody and The Answering Voice, Melodious Accord: Good Singing in Church, and a number of others.

All right, that’s the formal introduction. You should read the books – you’ll hear her remarkable voice in them. But this is personal.

My wife and I spent a week this past summer in private study with Alice, talking about music, life, family, and so much more. Alice is quite simply one of the most powerful, sweet, cogent people I have ever met. We were listening to On Being podcasts on the drive to & from the Berkshires (where she lives) and our weeklong conversation with her was of a kind with Krista’s talks with Elizabeth Alexander, Mary Oliver, Bobby McFerrin, and so many others.

I urge, beseech, beg you to talk with this remarkable woman while she is still delivering her powerful message.