The Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra will present the Oak Ridge premiere of Adaption Variations by living Japanese American composer Takuma Itoh as the featured musical selection during the United Nations International Day of Peace observance Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the International Friendship Bell and Peace Pavilion in A.K. Bissell Park.
The outdoor Music for Peace performance will follow Haiku for Peace presentations and children’s activities by Oak Ridge Girl Scouts during a program focused on the Friendship Bell, Peace Pavilion and the adjacent karesansui garden. Ziad Demian, the architect who designed the Peace Pavilion dedicated in 2018, will speak on the tradition and technology in the pavilion design.
The community is invited to bring picnic dinners and chairs or blankets to Bissell Park near the Peace Pavilion beginning at 5:15 p.m., with the program at 6 p.m. and music at 7 p.m. In case of rain, an alternate location will be announced.
The music program will open with Girl Scouts and guest soprano Katy Wolfe leading attendees in singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” accompanied by the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra. Music Director and Conductor Dan Allcott will lead the orchestra in the Music for Peace performance, continuing the Oak Ridge Civic Music Association’s history of participating in community events promoting peace.
The first selection, Adaption Variations, is a 12-minute composition by Itoh, who lives in Hawaii. Allcott, after he was introduced to Professor Itoh’s music, said it quickly became apparent that this composition was quite appropriate for a performance on the Day of Peace. Itoh writes of his music:
“When talking about evolution, biologists often use the musical term ‘theme and variations’ as an analogy of how a single species can evolve to become a diverse array of species over time. With Adaption Variations, I wanted to raise awareness of Hawaii’s incredible honeycreepers (forest birds), which performed this theme and variations over many millennia, evolving from one species that flew over Hawaii to over 50 distinct species at one point-but now fewer than 20 still remain, many of which are critically endangered.”
Allcott has programmed these additional musical selections:
- The iconic Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber.
- Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- Ose Shalom (The One Who Makes Peace) by John Leavitt, featuring guest soprano Katy Wolfe.
“Music for Peace is an extension of our community commitment to present works by diverse composers from historically underrepresented groups in our industry,” Allcott said. “We plan to work with our collaborators to present and grow future Peace Day events with a special focus on commissioning diverse composers to write music that incorporates the sound of the Friendship Bell into their compositions.”
Oak Ridge Girl Scouts began organizing and participating in the Day of Peace observation in 2015. Among children’s activities from 5 to 6 p.m., the scouts will have small tabletop Zen gardens for children to make and take home, as well as pinwheels for peace and watercolor peace designs. Girl Scouts are also making and donating peace rocks to share with those attending.
The evening will feature a Gardens for Peace design raked into the gravel karesansui garden at the Friendship Bell. The dry landscape gardens, traditional in Japan, feature artistic designs raked in fine gravel around carefully placed boulders. The Oak Ridge garden will be one of 14 featured Sept. 21 on the website of the North American Japanese Garden Association (https://najga.org) in its inaugural Gardens for Peace program.
The United Nations General Assembly established the International Day of Peace in 1981, inviting nations and people to observe the day of non-violence and cease-fire with education and public awareness activities on issues related to peace.
All who attend are encouraged to follow current CDC guidelines for COVID-19. ORCMA musicians will be seated separately from the public and follow those guidelines. Those attending are asked to socially distance on the grassy areas and benches around the Friendship Bell. All are encouraged to wear masks if they are within six feet of others, and to consider leaving or not attending if they have experienced COVID-19 symptoms or been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.