An Evening with Peter Yarrow
Date: Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 7:30pm
Location: Starr Theater at Walton Arts Center
“We’re part of a long train ride,” is the way Peter Yarrow visualizes the many events that have highlighted a career spanning more than four decades. With characteristic care, Yarrow places the success he’s had within a greater context, seeing his accomplishments as part of a tradition, to be credited and carried on. “When I was in high school,” he recalls, “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 lesson launched Peter on a lifelong path that is now, perhaps, in its most vital phase. Over the years, many issues have moved Peter 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 an organizer. Along with his singing partners, Paul and Mary, Peter participated in the Civil Rights Movement, which brought them to Washington 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.
He 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 some half-million people participated. Though much of Peter’s activism has been directed toward the social/political arena, Peter 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 United States, where he frequently sings for patients and staff and for whom he has been a voice of media advocacy for over a decade. Also in the health care arena, Peter founded the “Save One Child” Fund at Beth Israel Hospital’s Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery (INN) in 1996. Over the last five years, 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. Peter’s talents as a creative artist—both with Peter, Paul & Mary and as a solo performer—are frequently directed at using music to convey a message of humanity and caring. His gift for songwriting has produced some of the most moving songs Peter, Paul & Mary have recorded, including “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 many gold and platinum albums, has been awarded numerous Grammys, and nominated for several more. More important to Peter, however, is the acknowledgment of the central role that he and his partners have played in bringing the folk renaissance of the 1960s to the hearts and homes of the American public. Peter has explored his talents in filmmaking as well, producing the critically acclaimed feature, “You are What You Eat,” as well as three animated television specials based on “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” for which he received an Emmy nomination. Nurturing and validating the talent of new songwriters who write from heart-toheart— as opposed to focusing on the marketplace—is something to which Peter has been committed throughout his career. In 1962, he became a founding board member of the Newport Folk Festival, and in that context conceived of 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.