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Music to Remember

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The murder of Daniel Pearl still outrages and sickens me. His family seeks to redirect my feelings and those of others around the world on his birthday, October 10:

    his family and countless friends are preparing to mark his 39th birthday on Oct. 10 — the first since he was murdered by Islamic extremists in Pakistan — with concerts around the world.

    It’s a gesture they think would have delighted Pearl, a classically trained musician who jammed on mandolin, fiddle and an electric violin wherever the Wall Street Journal posted him, from Atlanta to Tehran.

    “When we took him to the airport to go to Stanford (University), he took his violin but he didn’t have any sheets and towels,” his mother, Ruth Pearl, recalled. “I don’t think Danny ever traveled without a musical instrument.”

    ….”I don’t forgive them, but I realize they are not a homogeneous group,” Judea Pearl said of the his son’s killers. “I want to give a platform for moderates so they prevail over the terrorists. That’s vengeance, isn’t it?”


    Judea Pearl, who was born in Israel, and Ruth Pearl, who was born in Iraq, both want the hopeful notes of their son’s life to overshadow the painful circumstances of his death.

    “All his life he wanted to bring people together to inspire, to communicate by dialogue and music,” Ruth Pearl said.

    A number of musical tributes to Pearl already took place alongside the honors heaped on him by fellow journalists, world leaders and Jewish groups.

    The first happened by accident in Tel Aviv on Feb. 21, the day the world learned he had been murdered. That night, George Pehlivanian, a neighbor and close friend of Daniel and his wife Mariane in Paris, was scheduled to lead the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv as a guest conductor.

    “He didn’t want to conduct that day, but he took the courage and went on stage and dedicated the concert to Danny,” Judea Pearl said.

    Pehlivanian later told Danny’s father that as the orchestra played Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, “he finally understood the triumph of hope over despair.”

    “He said he never conducted a symphony that way before,” Judea Pearl said. When Pehlivanian finished, the crowd applauded for 15 minutes. The seeds were planted for a worldwide day of healing through music.

    “A group of people who felt betrayed became empowered — they become a community and a community is more powerful than a betrayed individual,” Judea said. “Let this be his triumph.”

    ….In Washington D.C., friends and people who never knew the handsome, soft-spoken Pearl gathered at the bar Madam’s Organ, one of his favorite haunts, to play bluegrass and salute his spirit.

    That scene will be replayed on stages, large and small, in California, Massachusetts, England, Paris, Bangkok, Beijing and India as part of the first Annual Daniel Pearl Music Day.

    Violinists Itzhak Perlman and Emmanuel Ax, along with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Goa Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony planned separate tribute concerts across the United States in his memory and for world harmony.

    Although Judea Pearl could not persuade any of his son’s friends in Karachi to hold a public tribute — many in Pakistan still believe the Wall Street Journal reporter was a spy — the popular Pakistani rock group Junoon agreed to perform in his memory at a New Jersey concert.

    In the family’s long-term vision, such suspicions will fade and people all over the world will remember their connectedness each Oct. 10 because of the death of Daniel Pearl.

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About Eric Olsen