Sept. 23, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Peter Yarrow, a name many know from the days of the Peter, Paul and Mary folk-song singing trio, will offer a review of his life in music and philosophy when he presents “Peter Yarrow in Concert” as part of Slippery Rock University’s Performing Arts Series.
The Oct. 28 performance is at 7:30 p.m. in Miller Auditorium.
In addition to his performance, Yarrow will also offer a free, 10 a.m., anti-bullying workshop to SRU’s education majors. The workshop will introduce students to his “Operation Respect: ‘Don’t Laugh at Me’” project.
The anti-bullying project is based on Yarrow’s belief that music, with its power to build community and catalyze change, can be a particularly powerful tool as well as a source of inspiration for children. The project uses the song “Don’t Laugh at Me” to help create a climate of respect in schools.
He calls the song’s lyrics arresting, pointing to, “Don’t laugh at me, don’t call me names; don’t get your pleasure from my pain,” and has said “when properly positioned in a classroom-based character education, social/emotional learning program, could serve as an anthem for the growing movement to build safer and more respectful school environments for children.”
Yarrow has used the project to motivate a large number of U.S. educational organizations, and more than 100 members from both houses of Congress along with individuals from the private and non-profit sectors, have joined the effort by contributing their time, talent and funds to the development and free dissemination of the “Don’t Laugh at Me” program.
The McGraw-Hill Companies have been a major program supporter and legislation supporting the program has been crafted in California.
The evening performance will cover the folk singer’s life.
“We’re part of a long train ride,” is how Yarrow describes his life. His stage show offers a solo performance weaving a narrative of his life as a musician and social activist with his iconic days singing with the popular folk trio. He will share personal stories from the 1960s and explain his view of what he calls “an important era of American history.”
“When I was in high school,” he said, “I heard The Weavers’ concert at Carnegie Hall where they sang songs such as ‘If I Had a Hammer’ and ‘Wasn’t That a Time.’ It was inspiring, and it showed me the extraordinary effect that music of conscience can have.”
That music-inspired lesson launched him on a lifelong path.
Over the years, many issues have moved Yarrow to commit his time and talent: equal rights, peace, the environment, gender equality, homelessness, hospice care and education. All have utilized his skills as both a performer and organizer.
Along with his singing partners, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers, in the Peter, Paul and Mary days, Yarrow participated in the Civil Rights Movement, which brought them to Washington, D.C., in 1963 to sing for the historic march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the equally historic Selma-Montgomery march in 1965.
Yarrow went on to produce and coordinate numerous events for the Peace/anti-Vietnam War movement, including festivals at Madison Square Garden and Shea Stadium. These efforts culminated in his co-organizing the 1969 Celebration of Life, a now-famous march on Washington, in which nearly a half-million people participated. Though much of Yarrow’s activism has been directed toward the social/political arena, he has been equally active on behalf of more personal projects such as his advocacy on behalf of the hospice movement.
He is a board member of the Connecticut Hospice, the first hospice established in the U.S., where he frequently sings for patients and staff and for whom he has been a voice of media advocacy for more than a decade. He also founded the “Save One Child” Fund at Beth Israel Hospital’s Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery.
During the last five years, the New York-based effort has provided free medical care for, and saved the lives of, some 70 children from all over the world whose families could not afford their critically needed neurosurgery.
Yarrow’s talents as a creative artist — both with Peter, Paul and Mary and as a solo performer — are frequently directed at using music to convey a message of humanity and caring.
His songwriting talents include such Peter, Paul and Mary hits as “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” “Day is Done,” “Light One Candle” and “The Great Mandala.”
As a member of the renowned musical trio, he has earned numerous gold and platinum albums, has been awarded numerous Grammys while being nominated for several others.
He is credited for having a central role with his partners in bringing the folk renaissance of the 1960s to the hearts and homes of the American public.
Yarrow has explored his talents in filmmaking as well, producing the critically acclaimed feature “You are What You Eat” and three animated television specials based on “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” for which he received an Emmy nomination
In 1962, he became a founding board member of the Newport Folk Festival, and in that context conceived and hosted a special concert dedicated to emerging folk performers and songwriters. The New Folk Concert gave important early recognition to artists such as Buffy St. Marie, Eric Anderson and Tim Hardin.
In 1970, Yarrow conceived and co-organized the New Folks Concert, which became the signature event of the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival. Thirty years later, this concert is one of the most respected platforms in America for launching new singer/songwriters.
Yarrow was awarded the “Spirit of Kerrville” award in 1995 for his outstanding contributions to the creation of the festival.
The performance is supported, in part, by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, federal agency.
Tickets to the SRU performance are $22 for adults; $20 for seniors and youth; and $8 for SRU students. Call 724.738.2018 for reservations. Other shows remaining in the series are: “Neil Berg’s Broadway Holliday,” Dec. 2; and “Tap Kids,” March 30.
AVI Fresh, the campus contract food vendor, is offering a series of pre-performance dinners in the University Club of North Hall. Doors open at 5:15, with dinner at 5:30 p.m. The all-inclusive cost is $24 per person. Call 724.738.4245 for dinner reservations.
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