photo of Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner '77

Ellen Kushner, an award-winning author and Public Radio International (PRI) personality, is hosting an exciting new radio program.

"Sound & Spirit is a rich, sensual and spirited hour of music and words from around the world and through the ages," Kushner said. The show blends classical, traditional and world music with commentary from composers, theologians and writers to provide a spiritual journey through music.

"The purpose of the show is to take common human experiences and figure out how cultures of the world handle them," Kushner explained. She said her background as a fantasy writer helped her formulate the program, which looks at a combination of spirituality, philosophy and myth.

Every 60-minute show deals with a different subject; In a program called Drummers' Circle, Kushner looks at the origins of traditional drumming, talks with Mickey Hart (longtime percussionist for the Grateful Dead), and samples music from India, China, Japan, the Americas and West Africa, places where myth and ritual have spanned centuries to the beat of the drums. Another program, called Sacred Spaces, looks at the spiritual power of a Gothic cathedral or a rain-forest clearing.

Kushner has been at Boston-based WGBH radio station since 1987. She has hosted an overnight classical music show, a Sunday afternoon world music show, and award-winning specials on Passover and Jewish high holidays. Her national radio debut came in 1989 as the irreverent writer and host of the Nakamichi International Music Series of classical concert music distributed weekly by PRI. "I'm the kind of person who breaks rules," she said. "Classical music is not surgery, and I tried to be informal and chatty. I'm not making fun of it, but you don't have to shine your shoes to listen to it."

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