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By Robert Ricci ’15 and Richard Forget ‘15
On April 1st, Professor Christina Weiss took her Popular Music class to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester for a concert headlined by Peter Yarrow, formerly of Peter, Paul & Mary.
Besides his musical themes, Yarrow touched upon the issue of bullying, something that happened quite often to him as a child, he said. Now almost sixty years later, the same issues continue for other children. Yarrow’s main focus has been to raise awareness of bullying to put it to an end.
With that focus in mind, Yarrow was inspired to write “Don’t Laugh At Me”, which he performed with warmth and conviction. He also is achieving greater public awareness of bullying through his organization Operation Respect, which he founded in 1999.
As the concert progressed, Yarrow also sang his famous “Colonoscopy Song”, “Puff the Magic Dragon”, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane”.
Weiss notes that the class trip was inspired by Peter, Paul and & Mary’s world-renowned song about Puff. “The song was written to tell the story of a little boy (Johnny Paper) and his most favorite toy, a stuffed dragon (Puff) and the magic that was in their relationship. But as Johnny grew up, the magic disappeared,” she explains. “Haven’t we all had a toy in our lives that was pure magic?”
As the show was coming to an end, Yarrow asked anybody brave enough in the crowd to come up and join him in singing his final songs. A group of Nichols students were among the volunteers.
“When I woke up this morning, I never would have guessed that I would have been on stage and got to meet a man who has influenced not only the music world but the entire world with his music and the things he did,” says freshman Beethoven Phadael.
“I enjoyed how Peter Yarrow was able to connect with the adults as he did and get them to go up on stage and feel like children again, as we are all children and never truly grow up,” adds senior Michael Sannicandro.
Even at age 73, Peter Yarrow can still bring a crowd of people together to share in the love of music. All in all, the music that these students were graced with was from some of the hardest times in the United States and dealt with some of the same issues we are struggling with today.
“The main reason for going to this concert was to validate to my students that music is a lot more than what you hear. It truly can be magic,” Weiss says.
The concert began with a performance by Boston girl Lori Diamond and New Yorker Fred Abatelli. The duo interacted with the crowd, and sang about love, family, and not letting people get to you. Up next was Mustard’s Retreat, a combination of David Tamulevich and Michael Hough, two creative performers who see the fun in music. Together they sang about “The Michigan Mosquitoes” and adventures from back home.