Music has played an enormous role in the life of Ed Palmer.  Not only that, but his creative and performing abilities are both impressive and inspiring, whether singing along to ancient hymns, writing new songs to reflect on the present, or sharing songs on the radio that connect to listeners as the go through the night.  Watch the video highlighting Dr. Palmer and his music:

To listen to some of Dr. Palmer’s recordings, go to the “Music Bank” located here.


Musical Interests:

Dr. Palmer was not only an accomplished piano player and singer.

“I started trombone… when I was in the 5th grade.  Just an instrument I thought I would enjoy.”

He shared this love and talent with his son, but he also found an important lesson to share with the children:

As far as his own taste in music goes, Dr. Palmer’s interests reflect his upbringing, but also his time in the choir and working in radio.

When asked about his interests:  “It varies.  Dvorak is one.  The New World Symphony is one that I really like.  But I didn’t have a classical music background.  Most of what I came up with was hymns in church and religious music in church.”

“I’m very much into spirituals.  I love the spirituals, and the kind of strength that they represent.”

“I do find myself enjoying several country songs because they tell stories.  I love songs that tell stories.  And they tell about every story there is to tell.”

In fact, Ed’s daughter Jenn recently made a CD for her father, including some from his radio show.

“She gave me a sampler of the songs she calls, ‘Dad’s favorites.’  She put it together, my daughter.”

“My daughter found… the theme song that I used for ‘Night Watch’  It was ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’”

"Dad's Favorites"; photo courtesy of Ed Palmer

Wags and the Choir:

Parker B. Wagnild, the choir director at Gettysburg College whom he discussed in the video, was one of the most important figures in Dr. Palmer’s life.  Dr. Palmer loved his time in the choir, not in small part due to its director.

“The jokes that he had were ones that were just uniquely his… if it was really good, he might say that it would jar his grandmother’s preserves.”

“It was a kind of thing that was beloved.  I mean, you just enjoyed it.  You enjoyed going to rehearsal because of the nature of his personality and the kindness that he had.”

“Plus the musicianship – he was really a very polished musician.”

A Record put out by the Choir; photo courtesy of Allen Page

Dr. Palmer often turned to Wags for advice.

“I wanted to major in music, and he said to make it my avocation.”

“After I graduated, there was one point where I needed some really serious advice, and my dad and I went, at that time, to see him.  And he gave me the serious advice.  And I took it.  That said how much trust I had in him at that point.”

A Plaque of Wags; photo courtesy of Allen Page

It became clear that Dr. Palmer was a special student and friend to Wags as well, as he was asked to speak at his old director’s funeral.

“He had asked me to speak at his funeral, and I wasn’t really delighted to discuss that topic.  But I told him that I would certainly be willing to do that.”

In 2011, Gettysburg College dedicated a statue to Wags.  For that event, the college asked Dr. Palmer to give a reading of the presentation that he gave at the funeral.

A download of Dr. Palmer’s presentation can be found here.

An article remembering Wags can be found here.


Barbershop Quartet:

The Four Coursemen at Davidson are a barbershop quartet composed of Dr. Palmer, two professors emeriti, Dennis Appleyard, Dave Grant, and professor Durwin Striplin.  It’s one of the ways that Dr. Palmer remains connected to campus.  And it’s a lot of fun.

The Four Coursemen; courtesy of Bill Giduz

“We just have fun when we rehearse… and we enjoy singing too.”


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