346: David Lang
Music

346: David Lang

At age nine, he saw a Leonard Bernstein Young People’s Concert featuring Dmitiri Shostakovich and something happened. In a good way. Trauma free. A conversation with the Pulitzer-winning composer, introduced by Ralph Farris, violist in the quartet Ethel and creator of Co-Lab, a virtual conference on collaboration.  And these guys have. Splendidly. Continue reading »

Scholars

345: Ben Zimmer

The Wall Street Journal’s language columnist plays with our format, offering Word Word Word – and more elegantly still, the same word for each segment: orange. Then he makes a painful disclosure: “I myself am color-blind, and so I’m not completely attuned to all the nuances of it.” Hey, Beethoven was deaf, and he got the … Continue reading »

Nonfiction

344: Bill McKibben

A writer and environmentalist, he counts himself lucky to have worked at The New Yorker with (for? near?) William Shawn, “the greatest editor of the twentieth century.” What contributed to his mastery? “Once he had writers in his stable, he was quite interested in what they were interested in.” Professional skill as a manifestation of individual character. Continue reading »

Architecture & Design

343: Moshe Safdie

He’s created buildings from Montreal (Habitat 67) to Singapore (Jewel Changi Airport), but Jerusalem — the center of three Abrahamic religions, where people have lived for 6,000 years – is different: “It takes an act of real arrogance to build in a city like that. It was quite emotionally wrenching.” Presented by the Center for … Continue reading »

Music

342: Herb Alpert

This trumpet player has sold 72 million albums worldwide, including five number ones, and also founded A&M records. Ordinarily we’d talk about his person, place, and thing, but instead we devote our conversation to his person, songwriter Burt Bacharach — 73 top-forty hits. One enormously successful musician talks about another, with respect and affection. Continue reading »

Music

341: Terence Blanchard

This trumpeter and composer is celebrated for his film scores, especially for Spike Lee. His opera Fire Shut Up in My Bones is slated to open the new season at the Met. In this episode, we break format; instead of person, place, and thing, we talk song, song, and song. A conversation about three pieces of music. Continue reading »

Poetry

340: Natasha Trethewey

Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of the celebrated memoir Memorial Drive. As a child, she received three books from her father, meant to cultivate her literary sensibility and deepen her understanding of the world, particularly about race and class: Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, Light in August.  If you were to pick three, what would they be? Continue reading »

Politics and Policy

339: Robert Reich

After serving as Secretary of Labor, he resumed teaching at UC Berkeley, gracefully relinquishing power, like Cincinnatus returning to the plow. Or not. “Actually,“ he says, “I have much more power as a professor than I did as a cabinet secretary.” Training a student cadre in the Oakland hills? Encouraging rigorous thought? One of those. Continue reading »

Movies / Television

337: Tommy Oliver

He double-majored in economics and digital media, and, unlike those in show business who enjoy the show but decry the business, “I love the business as much as I love the creative, as much as I love the technical.” The result? Black Love, the TV series he and his wife, Codie Elaine Oliver, created, is in its … Continue reading »