Peace Corps Honored with Oratorio at Boston's Symphony Hall

March 12, 1999

Boston, March 12, 1999—Next week, the Handel & Haydn Society of Boston will perform "JFK: The Voice of Peace," an oratorio that celebrates the founding of the Peace Corps 38 years ago by President John F. Kennedy. The world premiere performances are being held at Boston's Symphony Hall on March 19 and 21.

"We are honored that the Handel & Haydn Society chose to feature the Peace Corps for this special oratorio," said Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan, who will introduce the oratorio at the world premiere on March 19. "President Kennedy would be proud of the renewed excitement around the Peace Corps today and around the next generation of volunteers."

The oratorio will be narrated by Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough, host of PBS' American Experience. The work, by American composer Dan Welcher, will be 45 minutes in length with orchestra, chorus, solo cello, and spoken narrative. Selected texts for the narration highlight Kennedy's speeches and works by some of the President's favorite poets.

In addition to Gearan, a native of Gardner, Mass., other Peace Corps attendees include Earl Yates, regional director for Africa, and a group of 38 Peace Corps volunteers leaving for service in Senegal, West Africa the following morning. This year marks the 35th anniversary of Peace Corps' sending volunteers to Senegal.

The Peace Corps will enter the new millennium with a renewed burst of energy. Interest in serving is up, the budget has been increased, and more volunteers will be sent overseas this year than at any time in the last 25 years.

Currently, some 6,700 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 80 countries around the world to bring clean water to communities, teach children, protect the environment, help start new small businesses, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.

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