Ninety student musicians sat on the stage patiently waiting to begin. It wasn’t Peabody Youth Orchestra Music Director Harlan Parker wielding the baton, however, and they weren’t in Peabody’s Friedberg Hall. On October 24, 2015, the Peabody Youth Orchestra performed at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Verizon Hall in Philadelphia, with internationally renowned composer/conductor Johan de Meij leading the ensemble.
The performance was a part of a 70th anniversary celebration of the United Nations presented by Harmony for Peace Foundation. The foundation, launched in 2009 to promote world peace through music, often welcomes renowned performers and peace advocates as well as children’s performing groups and choirs, according to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
The Preparatory’s Peabody Youth Orchestra was invited to perform two of Mr. de Meij’s works, which he conducted himself. Among the works were “Gandalf,” the first movement from Symphony No. 1, “The Lord of the Rings,” arguably Mr. de Meij’s most famous work.
Dr. Parker did step on stage to lead the ensemble in “Jupiter: the Bringer of Jollity” from The Planets by Gustav Holst. The Peabody Youth Orchestra was also joined on stage by the Harmony for Peace musicians.
“We were so honored Johan de Meij invited us to perform at the UN70 Peace Concert,” says Dr. Parker. “For our young musicians to perform at the Kimmel Center — on a stage where so many great musicians have performed — and to do it under the baton of Johan de Meij, that’s such a wonderful opportunity.”
Also performing during the concert were Chester County Youth Choir and Chorale, ChildrenSong of New Jersey, violinist Yeou-Cheng Ma, and pianist Gohei Nishikawa.
— Carin Morrell