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Concert Honors ‘Passionate but Humble’ Journalist and Musician

Students Learn About Daniel Pearl Through Orchestra


Jagienka Timek, Drew Johnston and Anneke Avery admit that before high school, they really had no idea who Daniel Pearl was.

The trio of seniors have attended since elementary school the concert held annually to honor him. But when they joined the high school orchestra, they really understood.

What: Daniel Pearl World Music Days — 11th Annual EGR Harmony for Humanity Pioneer Orchestra Concert: “Spreading Peace and Love Through Poetry & Music”
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25
Where: East Grand Rapids High School Performing Arts Center
Cost: Free — Donations will go to the Red Cross for Puerto Rico hurricane relief

“I think the older you get, the more you embrace the meaning of the concert,” Jagienka said. “It kind of becomes more personal.”

Pearl was an American-Israeli journalist who was kidnapped and murdered in 2002 by terrorists in Pakistan.

For at least some of those in high school today — 15 years later, when technology can deliver more up-to-the-minute and frequent news, and more gruesome-quality video — terrorism is seen as a fact of life.

“I feel like a lot of us have been desensitized by it, because it seems to happen so often,” Anneke said.

“That’s where this concert comes in,” added Drew, “because you really get to know about one of the victim’s lives, and to honor it.”

Clockwise from front, seniors Jagienka Timek, Anneke Avery and Drew Johnston hope to honor through music the legacy of Daniel Pearl

Music: Bonds and Heals

Oct. 25 will mark 11 years that the district has been commemorating Pearl’s life through music. A classically trained violinist who also enjoyed fiddle, he carried his instrument with him on long assignments and sought local musicians with whom he could play.

Daniel Pearl World Music Days was founded 15 years ago as an “international network of concerts that use the power of music to reaffirm our commitment to tolerance and humanity,” according to the organization’s website. Since 2002, the event has grown to include more than 13,900 performances in 140 countries.

“I was simply intrigued more by the fact that this journalist was a classically trained violinist,” orchestra director Mary Hillyard recalled. “But the more I read and researched into his life, and shared with the students, I realized that there was a lot that we could learn from this passionate yet humble person.”

The orchestra will play songs by composers John Harmon, Edvard Grieg, Ennio Morricone, William Hofeldt and George Percy Aldridge Grainger. Hillyard said she chose musical pieces that evoked contemplation, joy, thoughtfulness or were descriptively beautiful.

“Once I decide on a theme, I try to pick music that Daniel might have played himself in high school or college, or that I think would have interested him as well.”

New this year will be poetry, featuring student-selected work by Sarah Brightman, Wendell Berry, Richard Dorion, Emily Dickinson and Todd-Michael St. Pierre.

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Daniel Pearl World Music Days

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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