For about thirty-five years Richard Gladwell hosted “With Heart and Voice” on public radio. I was a regular listener for fewer than ten years until Maine Public Radio mucked around with the schedule. During my years as a regular listener Richard was a welcome companion on Sunday nights, sharing his seemingly endless collection of choral and organ music while I listened and wrote in my journal. Feeling somewhat adrift over the last few years I have been reaching out, and back, to those things that seemed to keep me most anchored, including “With Heart and Voice.” It wasn’t until last week, looking around for one of those anchors, that I discovered that Richard had been diagnosed with brain cancer earlier in 2009 and died only a few weeks ago, on October 15.
While “With Heart and Voice” often followed the liturgical calendar it was not, and is not, a religious program. Regardless, it would be impossible to deny the role of the church in the creation of what is, in my estimation at least, some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring music ever written. Of course, this presupposes that you find choral and organ music appealing, but I am glad to have enjoyed the music – and the words – Richard Gladwell shared with his listeners for so long, and that I have come to hear so much more of that music. Every time I listen to “Trumpet Tune in D” by David Johnson I will expect it to be followed by a familiar voice. If you’re not familiar, you can hear WXXI‘s tribute here.