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Worldwide Concert Will Honor Slain Journalist

Dedication: Event will open with a folk festival Oct. 6 in Encino, where Daniel Pearl grew up.

September 11, 2002|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Slain journalist Daniel Pearl loved music, and to honor him, the Daniel Pearl Foundation is launching a worldwide concert on Oct. 10, the day he would have turned 39.

"He always carried an instrument with him wherever he went," said Judea Pearl, Daniel's father.

Kicking off the international event will be a free folk music festival Oct. 6 in Encino, where Pearl grew up.

"Every one of the artists who is coming is dedicating a song to Danny," said Elaine Weissman, executive director of the California Traditional Music Society, sponsor of the festival.

Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and slain by terrorists in Pakistan in January, was an accomplished violinist, fiddler and mandolin player.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation, established by his family in April, "promotes cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and innovative communications," its literature states.

When the Pearl and Weissman children were growing up, the families often celebrated Passover together, Weissman said, "and my most poignant memory of our Passover Seder was Danny playing the 'Four Questions' on the violin."

Daniel switched from the violin to the fiddle and then to the electric violin, perfectly suited for jazz improvisation. He mastered the mandolin when he fell in love with folk music, around the time he joined the staff of the Wall Street Journal, his father said.

"That repertoire swept him away from classical," said Pearl, who plays the guitar and conducts the Los Angeles Hebrew Choir.

"In every town he was stationed, he would form a group or join a group," Pearl said. "I think it was his way of making friends."

When Daniel went to a new city, even for a day or two, he would find a local club and get on stage and perform. He played at parties and treated his newspaper friends to impromptu recitals when they were working late. He also gave free violin lessons to needy youngsters.

The Encino event is an ideal way to launch the international Daniel Pearl Music Day, his father said. The San Fernando Valley community was where Danny went to school and where he played soccer. And as the foundation brochure says, "music was an essential form of expression for Danny."

"He means a lot to people who grew up here in Encino, and it's very natural to have the kickoff here," Pearl said.

The free daylong festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in and around the music society's Center for Folk Music in Encino Park on Ventura Boulevard, a block west of Balboa Boulevard.

A 90-by-32-foot wooden dance floor will be set up under the trees for contra dancing, a traditional form of couples dancing that has found new popularity.

There will be nine main acts, with half-hour performances, as well as an area for jamming that Weissman described as "a mixture of Scottish, Irish, old-timey bluegrass and Paraguayan harp music."

Orchestras and other ensembles in more than 50 cities will remember Daniel Pearl on or around Oct. 10, including groups in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok, Goa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, London and Boston, his father said. More information about the commemoration is available at www.danielpearl.org.

No particular repertoire is recommended for Daniel Pearl Music Day, his father said. "Everything is acceptable. Danny was very inclusive. His range was very wide."

In New York City, Pearl said, an orchestra plans to play Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, a piece with special resonance for Pearl. It was performed in honor of Daniel by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv on Feb. 22, after the world learned that he had been slain.

The Israeli-born Pearl said guest conductor George Pehlivanian told him afterward: "That was the first time I understood the triumph of hope over despair."

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