OU Professor Mark Stone promotes world harmony through music at International Peace Day Concert

International Day of Peace, unofficially known as World Peace Day, is a United Nations-sanctioned holiday observed annually on Sept. 21. The day is meant to be devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Mark Stone, an associate professor of percussion and world music at Oakland University, hosted a celebration of International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. in Varner Hall.

Stone believes that music is a significant bond all people share and can bring people together.  

“The idea for the concert came from a friend of mine, a performer from India, Shashikiran,” he said. “I performed an International Peace Day concert with him a few years back and I found it a wonderful way to promote global peace so I thought it would be really great to start a new tradition at Oakland.”

The performance presented a range of musical compositions from cultures around the world. There was a variety of traditional African instruments including a newly contrived African instrument called a mbira, a West African instrument referred to as a gyll and a brand new American instrument known as the array.

Stone dedicated the pieces to people he found most influential to world peace. He performed one of his compositions in honor of Vincent Khapoya, his friend and former OU professor, who passed away back in April.

“I wrote a piece for Vincent because to me he was a great person who always had a genuine, warm presence and promoted peace all the way from his home in Kenya, to his place of work in South Africa, all the way  to right here at Oakland University,” Stone said.

The title of the piece dedicated to Khapoya, is “Mwalimu,” which means teacher in the native language of Kenya. Khapoya began teaching at OU back in 1974 and up until his retirement about 10 years ago, Stone said Khapoya was dedicated to his job.

Stone also dedicated a new piece to the first elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. He believes Mandela is one of the most influential leaders of peace and wanted to make sure he paid rightful tribute to him in his performance.

“This year would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday so I think it is really important to recognize him and what he has done,” he said.  

Stone also included pieces inspired by American jazz traditions, European concert music and the classical music of India. In addition to each of the arrangements, Stone shared poetry and inspirational readings from the past and present, in between, that he felt contributed to the idea of global peace.