In Harmony with History

Plymouth Philharmonic Explores Plymouth’s Journey—through Music

Written by Jennifer H. McInerney
Photography by Denise Maccaferri

Fittingly, for the town-wide commemoration of Plymouth 400, the Phil will be focusing on the journey, of both the natives and the settlers—before, during, and after the fateful arrival of the Pilgrims in December 1620. Throughout this quadricentennial year, the orchestra will be performing musical works that underscore the harmonious aspects of Plymouth 400: the coming together of two disparate communities in the unforgiving New England winter climate four centuries ago.

Karidoyanes, who grew up in the restaurant business, equates his approach to preparing a concert program to that of an executive chef creating a restaurant menu. “I look at the available ingredients, the clientele, or audience, we’re serving, and what’s in season for the time of year,” he explains. “For the 400th Commemoration, I took a step back to consider these two worlds coming together—these peoples who love and cherish this land.”

Karidoyanes developed the repertoire for “Plymouth 400: Adoration of Place,” with this in mind. The performance, which is scheduled to take place on August 8 at Plymouth Memorial Hall, was designed to be a multimedia experience, with instruments, vocals, storytelling and visuals. Featured music includes: “The Mayflower,” from the film score to “Plymouth Adventure,” by Miklós Rózsa; “Orchestral Suite” from the film “Our Town,” “Simple Gifts” from “Old American Songs, Set One,” and “The Promise of Living,” from “The Tender Land,” (all by Aaron Copland); “First Light,” by Tonya Wind Singer; and “Cello Concerto in B Minor” by Antonin Dvořák. 


“The first half of the program is a meditation of sorts on what’s to come for Plymouth,” says Karidoyanes. “The second half is a curated collection that celebrates our shared adoration of place.” As a highlight, the Phil will welcome Wampanoag leader, historian and artist Jonathan James-Perry to the stage to lead a performance of “First Light,” by Tonya Wind Singer.

Rounding out this past-and-future community event, the performance will feature select choruses from Pembroke High School, Plymouth North High School and Silver Lake Regional High School, lending their voices to “Simple Gifts” and “The Promise of Living,” both of which evoke hope and gratitude.

“We are fortunate that our region is rich with talented musicians,” says Karidoyanes. The high school students have been rehearsing since the beginning of the school year, gathering for group rehearsals as the concert date draws near. 

The multimedia elements will come into play during the “Our Town” and “The Mayflower” portions of the performance, when a series of 125 photographs from the archives of Pilgrim Hall Museum will be projected onto a screen above the orchestra “to honor the many who have walked this place before us,” says Karidoyanes. 

Later this year, on November 14, the Phil will present “Two Worlds—In Hopeful Harmony.” For this occasion, the Plymouth Philharmonic is collaborating with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra on two pieces in honor of the Plymouth 400 Commemoration. One is an orchestral tone poem inspired by Wampanoag legends, composed by Tonya Wind Singer, and the other, by composer Alex Berko, focuses on the Mayflower Compact, the first document of self-governance for Plymouth Colony.

The commemoration of Plymouth 400 has made the year 2020 a musically exciting and satisfying one for Karidoyanes. “I’ve learned and explored so much throughout this process,” the conductor says. “My hope is that, through music, we can continue to promote harmony and mutual respect in our community.” 

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Favorite Plymouth Landmark: The National Monument to the Forefathers

Now in his 26th year with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Steven Karidoyanes has made Plymouth his home away from home. During his tenure with the Phil, he has enjoyed exploring America’s Hometown, from the ever-popular tourist attractions to the lesser-known gems. One of his favorite spots is the National Monument to the Forefathers, erected in 1889, on Allerton Street in Plymouth, down the street from The Phil’s headquarters. 

Considered the nation’s largest freestanding granite statue, measuring 82 feet tall, the monument is dedicated to the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower—but is often overshadowed by some of the town’s other waterfront attractions.

Whenever he entertains visitors from out of town, Karidoyanes brings them to the Forefathers monument, and they are always impressed. “It’s a magnificent place, but no one knows it’s there. Even people from Plymouth don’t know about it,” he says. “Whenever I’m there, I’m always humbled by it.”

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