When the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra tunes up at Agassiz tomorrow night at 8:15 o'clock, it will be continuing at tradition which began while Josef Haydn was still alive and Franz Schubert, a child of II, was pecking out his earliest sonatas. The Pierian Sodality of 1808, which forms the core of the orchestra, antedates the New York Philharmonic by some 26 years.
Two things about Pierian immediately commend themselves to the attention: it is the oldest continuing orchestra in the Western Hemisphere, and it has the queerest name of any band anywhere on earth.
The organization derives its name from Pope's couplet which begins, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." In Italy, Pieria was considered the home of the muses; sodality, a word now happily out of use, means a religious organization of sorts.
Any suggestion of pagan worship implied in the name has since been renounced by the orchestra. Pierian is a self-sustaining organization which lives upon the proceeds of its concerts. Since the Pierian was incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts in 1903, the student officers of the orchestra are also officers of the corporation.
The orchestra is under the direction of Malcolm H. Holmes '28, former president of Pierian and now dean of the New England Conservatory. Tomorrow night's concert given in co-operation with the Radcliffe Choral Society, will include two movements of the Haffner symphony, the Rosamunde Overture, sections from Handel, and a suite of dances by Douglas Moore.