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Members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) added a harmonious note to the nuclear disarmament movement in a free outdoor concert at High Park on June 19. A crowd of 3,000 listened to a selection of international classical music, played for peace, and led by Andrew Davis, the orchestra’s conductor.
Davis, 75 TSO players and several additional Toronto musicians donated their time and considerable talent in an effort to promote bilateral disarmament.
“Many of us feel that the nuclear arms race is out of control,” said Davis, “and we are using the healing power of music, the best means we have, to make that statement.”
The concert was coordinated by Judy Loman, the TSO harpist, who came up with the idea while the orchestra was touring East and West Europe last winter. She said the musicians had opportunities to discuss antiwar events going on in Europe, particularly the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common in Britain.
As a result of this European tour, Davis and most of the The musicians decided to participate in the first peace concert by symphony players in Canada, entitled “The Sound of Peace.”
It was a perfect day for an outdoor concert and people in the audience clearly enjoyed themselves and appreciated the program. But many said they came for more than just entertainment.
“I’m here because I’m interested in the case,” said Gareth Blyth, who was celebrating Father’s Day with his daughter. “We must have peace or we won’t have any more music.”
Davis, who called himself a “new peace activist,” read telegrams of support from politician:, religious leaders and artists. Among these were the mayor of Hiroshima, Takeshi Araki, authors Margaret Atwood and Adele Wiseman, actor Paul Newman and Seiji Ozawa, former conductor of the TSO and now conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Loman said that “worldwide nuclear disarmament is the common consensus” amongst all who performed. She was elated with the audience turnout and response.
Before concluding the concert, with the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Davis drew spirited and sustained applause when he told the audience, “It is time to stand up and he counted; we can no longer sit back.”
The 75-minute programme included Rossini’s Thieving Magpie overture, the second movement of Handel’s Water Music, the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss, Polonaise by Tchaikovsky and Leonard Bernstein’s overture to Candide.