Keeping the Dream Alive: The Daniel Pearl Music Days

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

The measure of a life well lived is the wealth of friendship and love that is left behind.

In 2002, South Asia's Wall Street Journal bureau chief Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and subsequently murdered by terrorists in Pakistan. His murder, captured on video, shocked the world and created international outrage.

The story could have easily ended there. The day after Danny Pearl died, his friend and neighbor, George Pehlivanian, was scheduled to lead the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra as a guest conductor. Reluctant to perform following the news of his friend's death, he decided finally to proudly dedicate the concert to Danny.

Known as a journalist to most, Danny was also a classically trained violinist, and a mandolin player. He used his passion for music to form friendships that crossed cultures and religious divides, which was well in keeping with the rest of his lifestyle. Danny lived in a boundary-less world, with a spirit that knew no prejudice. He joined musical groups in every community in which he lived, leaving behind a trail of musician-friends around the globe.

Danny's family and friends wanted his memory to reflect the world and life he lived before his death. Known for his integrity and love of world music, the Daniel Pearl Foundation was created in his honor. The organization continues his mission of international tolerance and respect for cultural differences. Over the last few years, the Foundation has awarded international fellowships for journalists in the Middle East, held forums for continuing dialogue between Muslim and Jewish leadership and created internship programs for journalists in training.

But perhaps the most far-reaching event the Foundation has created is something called Daniel Pearl World Music Days. Inspired by his love of music, the World Music Days take place during the month of October throughout the world. The response from the music community has been extraordinary. The first year, over 117 concerts took place in 18 countries. Last year, over 530 concerts took place in over 42 countries. Well known and emerging artists perform in his honor, including such notables as REM, Herbie Hancock, Robert Plant and Alison Krause, Jason Mraz, and Laurie Anderson.

And the honorary committee that helps organize Daniel Pearl World Days is equally notable: Elton John, Theodore Bikel, Steve Reich, Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Ravi Shankar and Barbra Streisand are just a few of the well known musicians behind the scenes.

Concerts will be performed around the world from Argentina to Zimbabwe.  This is the largest international music dedication ever. And what is extraordinary is that no money is raised from the performances for the Foundation.  The only requirement for participation is a declaration from the stage or in the program that affirms the principles by which Daniel Pearl lived: the support of tolerance, diversity, and the belief that the power of music can bridge differences.

Out of unbelievable tragedy, hope emerges.

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.