The American Victory Orchestra presented a Daniel Pearl World Music Days concert on October 31 at Santa Monica’s World Peace Ikeda Auditorium. The AVO event was co-sponsored by ICAP.
The world has come to know Daniel Pearl as a journalist who was kidnapped by terrorists in Pakistan four months after September 11, 2001. People around the world held vigil, sending their prayers for his safety and release and for the well-being of his then-pregnant wife, Marianne. But, sadly, Mr. Pearl was barbarically murdered by his captors. Despite the tragic outcome, Daniel Pearl is remembered today as a symbol of hope, someone who strove to build bridges between cultures, both as a writer and as a gifted violinist. Frequently, he would use music to create friendships.
The annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days — an initiative that, according to the project website, uses “the power of music to promote tolerance and inspire respect for differences” — is a project of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, an organization created by Mr. Pearl’s family and friends. The Foundation’s mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and innovative communications. Since 2002, the Daniel Pearl World Music Days has grown to encompass more than 6,000 performances in 105 countries.
Patrick Scott conducted the AVO (American Victory Orchestra) for the Santa Monica performance, and actors Terri Yates and Cole Williams served as emcees. Mr. Pearl’s parents, Dr. Judea and Ruth Pearl, made an appearance, expressing their gratitude to AVO members and to the audience.
The concert began with the AVO performing Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” accompanied by dancers in festive Halloween costumes, followed by works by Vivaldi and Offenbach. Operatic sopranos Alise Richel and Connie Smith thrilled the crowd with songs from the Victor Herbert operetta Mademoiselle Modiste. A medley from the musical Phantom of the Opera also delighted the audience. And Bennie Maupin and his ensemble performed a rousing version of the Dave Brubeck jazz classic “Take Five.”
Rounding out the uplifting program was the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, led by Russell Steinberg, who performed “Stories From My Favorite Planet,” “Tears of Kosovo,” and “Missing Violin Tango.” The orchestra, which calls the beautiful Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills its home, comprises some 80 to 90 students, ages 8 to 18, who attend more than 60 L.A.-area schools. Providing orchestra experience to a wide range of students, the vision of the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra is to be a musical voice that embraces the entire Los Angeles community.
The ICAP-sponsored exhibition “Artists as Peacemakers” adorned the lobby, poignantly bringing together the night’s major themes.