The following is by the director of The Tuerkischer Oktober 2003 Festival's Daniel Pearl concert celebrating "Three Great World Religions and their Music" in Munich, Germany.
When I first read about "Daniel Pearl Music Day," I immediately wanted to contribute in some way. As a close friend of one of Daniel's colleagues at the Wall Street Journal-and as a person with normal human emotions-I followed the whole terrible ordeal of his kidnapping and was deeply shocked to learn of his senseless murder. Like many people, I felt frustrated and helpless.
Personally I don't believe in fate, or "kismet," as they call it in Turkey where I come from. I just can't accept that there can be any deeper meaning in an event so unjust and horrible. On the contrary, I am strongly convinced that meaning can only be created on earth by human spirit, emotions, and intelligence. So I was very impressed by the approach taken by the Pearl family: They didn't surrender to poisonous feelings like bitterness or revenge. Instead, they formed a worldwide network of like-minded people to help Danny's ideas and ideals live on.
As a musician of Turkish origin, a classical pianist living in Germany for the past ten years, I've started to discover the positive aspects and the possibilities of bringing two cultures together. This not only changed my musical work, it gave a new direction to my entire life-that of promoting cross-cultural institutions in Germany. One of these is Turkish October, or Türkischer Oktober, a very successful cultural festival in Munich, launched only a month after September 11th, 2001. At the heart of this year's program is Daniel Pearl Music Day. Our team of international musicians feels very close to Danny's work of building bridges between different cultures.
A desire to do a concert uniting the three great monotheistic world religions through their music found concrete form when I learned of the "Music Day" network. A great musical arch reaches from Judaism, the oldest religion, to Islam, the youngest. The program in many ways is connected to Daniel's personality and life. Performers include Cantor Richard Ames from Graz, Austria, who is also of American-Jewish origin and sings Sephardic sacred songs, biblical psalms, and new Chassidic music. Liz Howard, a powerful gospel singer from New Orleans praises the Lord in an entirely different tradition, full of ecstasy and joy.
The third segment represents one of the best and oldest traditions of Pakistan: Faiz Ali Faiz, the leading Qawwali ensemble of Punjab. Eight musicians celebrate in solo singing and antiphony, with whirling rhythms and hand-clapping, the mystic sound of the great Sufi masters of Islam, whose beliefs are characterized by tolerance, love of mankind, and ecstasy before the beauty of creation.
Music knows no borders. It speaks when words fail. It is a direct and natural way to show the spiritual relationship between these three great faiths. Yet it is getting difficult nowadays to find musicians from these religions who will agree to play together. We are facing a lot of hostility and mistrust. The cultures of the world are moving apart at frightening speed.
A concert like this, inspired by Daniel Pearl's life, is a spiritually unifying event.
Especially in these times, when religions are once again being used for political purposes, it is more important than ever to show that friendship, harmony, and respect must not remain a utopian dream.
Of course, I know that an event like this is just a drop in the bucket. But after all, isn't that what the oceans consist of-millions of tiny drops?