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Encino Music, Story Festival Honors Slain Journalist

October 11, 2003|Patricia Ward Biederman | Times Staff Writer

Slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who grew up in Encino, loved music, especially folk music. Murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, Pearl would have been 40 on Friday, and friends who used to play alongside the gifted musician will be among those honoring him at Sunday's free Folk Music, Dance & Storytelling Festival in Encino Park.

The San Fernando Valley festival is one of hundreds of musical events that will be part of the second annual Daniel Pearl Worldwide Music Day, launched last year by the Daniel Pearl Foundation to promote "cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and innovative communications."

Last year's Encino festival kicked off the global tribute to the life and values of Pearl, who played the violin, fiddle and mandolin. According to his father, Judea Pearl, the newsman always had an instrument with him for impromptu jam sessions wherever he was.

The elder Pearl, speaking of last year's festival, said his son "means a lot to people who grew up here in Encino, and it's very natural to have the kickoff here."

Last year, more than 100 concerts were held in 18 countries in Pearl's honor. This year, more than 200 musical events are planned in some 30 countries, including performances by the Dixie Chicks and sitarist Ravi Shankar. Other events include several tributes in Germany, peace concerts in Pakistan and Israel and a memorial concert by the orchestra at Pearl's Birmingham High School.

Harmony for Humanity is the theme.

More than 120 performers will participate in the Encino festival, sponsored by the California Traditional Music Society. Among the artists: a Paraguayan harpist, Mexican folk singers, Scottish fiddlers, a banjo band and half a dozen Celtic bands. Seven outdoor stages will be set up around the park's California Traditional Music Society Center for Folk Music, at 16953 Ventura Blvd.

According to the center's executive director, Elaine Weissman, the festival will also feature 10 storytellers. Areas will be set aside for folk dancing, a children's stage and an arts and crafts show. People are invited to bring their own instruments and participate in bluegrass, Celtic and old-time music jam sessions.

The free festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in conjunction with the Encino Chamber of Commerce's Taste of Encino event.

Weissman said there were two reasons for dedicating the festival to Pearl. "My children grew up with Danny," she said. "He was at a number of our Seders. All of our kids were raised with all the Pearls' kids."

Secondly, Weissman said, "the mission and goals of the Daniel Pearl Foundation are the same as those of the California Traditional Music Society ... promoting peace and understanding through art."

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