"Stories from My Favorite Planet" premiered in October 2003 with Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist Mitchell Newman, actor Josh Coxx, and composer, conductor, performer Russell Steinberg on piano. The piece intertwines readings from five articles published in "At Home in the World" (a collection of Daniel Pearl's writings from the Wall Street Journal), into a musical tapestry that portrays Danny's compassion as well as his sense of the ridiculous.
The CD begins with a musical overture that represents Danny's drive from California to Massachusetts for his first job at the North Adams Transcript. In the first article, a young Danny delivers a hilarious indictment against the bureaucracy of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. A melancholy violin soliloquy precedes the next article, a powerful Wall Street Journal story set in Kosovo where Danny tries to discover if any Serb and Albanian friendships still remain amidst the war. Perhaps Danny's most humorous article concerns the rediscovery of a UCLA-owned Stradivarius violin that fell off the roof of someone's car, but whose new owner is loathe to return it! Musically, Russell Steinberg sets this movement as a tango.
The climax of the piece is a musical tarantella that prepares one of Danny's darkest stories detailing Osama Bin Laden's gem smuggling trade in Africa. Here Danny discovers how strongly Islamic fundamentalists desire to kill Americans, eerily anticipating his own fate. The musical elegy that follows is a "ghost" version of the earlier tango. Danny Pearl's wit would not stand for a depressing conclusion, so we end as we began, with a sequel to the first article in Massachusetts. Danny gloats that he has outlasted his "tormentor", the chief of the Motor Vehicle Registry, only to learn that you can't beat City Hall!
"Stories from My Favorite Planet" was commissioned by the Daniel Pearl Foundation for the second annual worldwide Daniel Pearl Music Days. Danny's father, Dr. Judea Pearl, suggested the title, and wryly quipped that Russell Steinberg's compositions may be the very first piece of music inspired by the Wall Street Journal.
The world has come to know Daniel Pearl as a journalist who was kidnapped and barbarically murdered by terrorists in Pakistan four months after 9/11. People around the world prayed with his pregnant wife for his release. Since then, he has been remembered more as a symbol for hope: a man who strove to build bridges between cultures as a writer and a gifted violinist who used music to create friendships. Music was an essential form of expression for Danny and led him to become a fixture in several bands around the world, where he jammed on the electric violin, fiddle, and mandolin.
Danny was retracing the steps of "shoe bomber" Richard Ried, and trying to interview a militant leader, when he was abducted in Karachi on January 23, 2002. For weeks, millions of people around the world - from heads of state and prominent celebrities to religious leaders rallied for Danny's release. In Danny, the terrorists believed they abducted a media figure, an American, and a Jew. But they had much more: a true citizen of the World and an embodiment of civilized values, whose death, like his life, would inspire millions of people in the cause of decency and cultural understanding. Danny's murder was confirmed on February 21, 2002. Three years later, many of the terrorists involved in the abduction and the slaying are in jail, though others are still at large.
In May 2002, Mariane Pearl gave birth to a son, Adam. Danny's family and friends created the Daniel Pearl Foundation to carry on his legacy, using music and words to combat the root causes of the hatred that took his life.
Composer, conductor, and performer Russell Steinberg holds a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University, and M.M. from the New England Conservatory, and a B.A. from UCLA. Steinberg's music has been performed in the United States and abroad, including concerts in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Baltimore, Aspen, Connecticut, San Francisco, New Jersey, Vermont, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and most recently Israel. Among his awards are an ASCAP Young Composers Grant, Composers, Inc. and NACUSA prizes, MacDowell and Aspen Fellowships, and First Prize in the New World String Quartet competition. A CD of his solo music for piano and classical guitar, titled Desert Stars, is available online. For more information, please visit his website: www.russellsteinberg.com
MITCHELL NEWMAN a native of Los Angeles, has been a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1987, and is a frequent performer on the Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music and New Music Group series. Mr. Newman has also performed with Southwest Chamber Music, Mladi, the Gold Coast Chamber Players and has participated in festivals in Austria and France.
JOSH COXX stars as the heartthrob male nurse/midwife, Peter Riggs, in LIFETIME Television's drama series "Strong Medicine." He has appeared in numerous television shows including "One Life to Live", "NYPD Blue", "Providence", "Once and Again", "Friends", and "Bablyon 5". He also had performed at the Aspen Comedy Festival.
ABOUT THE DANIEL PEARL FOUNDATION
Following the murder of Daniel Pearl in February 2002, his family and friends came together to create a non-profit organization to further the values that he lived by, so that his influence would continue to enrich the world. The Daniel Pearl Foundation aims to promote cross-cultural understanding, combat cultural and religious hatred, encourage responsible and creative journalism, and unite people through music. The Foundation's activities are concentrated in three main areas: raising awareness of issues through events, training journalists through fellowships and internship programs, and bringing people together through dialogue and music.
The centerpiece of the Foundation's activities is the Annual Daniel Pearl Music Days events, held each year on the week of Danny's birthday, October 10, to carry on his mission of connecting people through words and music and promote "Harmony for Humanity". In 2004, hundreds of thousands of people from 39 countries participated in over 400 concerts by professional and amateur musicians dedicated to tolerance and understanding.
The Daniel Pearl Foundation is a non-profit 501Â©3 tax-exempt organization. Additional information is available online at www.danielpearl.org.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Music: Overture1.
2. Article: Going to the Top Won't Get You to the Bottom of Burea
3. Music: Tears in Kosovo
4. Article: Search for Mercy Ends in Tears on Quiet Kosovo Street
5. Music: Missing Violin Tango
6. Article: Missing Violin's Case: The finder Fiddles While Loser
7. Music: Tanzanite Tarantella
8. Article: Underground Trade: Much-Smuggled Gem Helps Bin-Laden Su
9. Music: Elegy
10. Article: Registry Saga, Part2: Intrepid Reporter-Driver Outlasts
11. Music: Epilogue
12. Music: Stories from My Favorite Planet (Music Alone)