Concerto honoring Daniel Pearl to premiere in S.F.

In life, Daniel Pearl loved to play the violin and the mandolin. Now, 12 years after his murder in Karachi at the hands of Pakistani jihadists, the martyred Jewish journalist will be honored in a new musical work. It’s a concerto for violin and mandolin.

“Tikkun,” by Israeli-born composer Ariel Blumenthal, makes its world premiere Monday, Dec. 15 in a free concert in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The John and Marcia Goldman Foundation commissioned the piece.

Daniel Pearl

Violinist Ittai Shapira and mandolinist Avi Avital, both Israel-born, will join members of the San Francisco Symphony and students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, under the baton of San Francisco Symphony violinist Florin Parvulescu.

“Daniel Pearl played violin and mandolin quite well,” Parvulescu said. “The idea was to write a piece commemorating him and to continue the work the Daniel Pearl Foundation does in his memory: interfaith dialogue and understanding.”

Now based in Los Angeles, Tel Aviv-born composer Blumenthal got to know Judea Pearl, father of Daniel, in the years after his son’s death. Some three years ago, he and violinist Shapira decided to collaborate on a new piece, one that would honor a Jewish hero. Pearl naturally fit the bill.

“He was very proud about his Judaism, and for me he symbolizes a lot of the beauty of Judaism,”  Blumenthal said.

Though the Romanian-born conductor is known for boundary-pushing experimental electronica, he went old school on “Tikkun,” a classic three-movement concerto scored for a chamber orchestra of brass, strings and winds.

A native of Southern California, Daniel Pearl was an accomplished investigative journalist on assignment in Pakistan when he was kidnapped in February 2002 by terrorists allied with al-Qaida. His beheading was captured on film, but before he died, Pearl uttered words that have resonated across the Jewish world and beyond: “My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish. I’m Jewish.”

Pearl has been memorialized in music before. Composer Steve Reich wrote “Daniel Variations” in 2006, which featured in part passages from the biblical Book of Daniel and Pearl’s own words.

John Goldman, who with his wife, Marcia, funded the new piece, said Pearl “represents the epitome of courage and a steadfastness about his identity as a Jew. His journalistic career and in the way his life played out in many ways reinforces the importance of freedom of speech. He did not back down.” — dan pine

“Tikkun” premieres at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15 at the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak St., S.F. Free. or (415) 503-6275

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.