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A musical message of tolerance

Event: Local girl organizes concert to honor memory of slain journalist Daniel Pearl

Posted: November 17, 2010 7:15 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Kelsey Taylor, 14, plays piano at her home in Valencia on Wednesday. On Dec. 1, she will receive a certificate of recognition from the Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste for organizing a musical concert that honored the memory of slain journalist Daniel Pearl.



Growing up in the Santa Clarita Valley, Kelsey Taylor, 14, said she has never faced a truly dramatic experience.

She was too young when the story of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist who was beheaded by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2002, shocked the world. She learned about the tragedy a year ago at a musical performance in Santa Monica that was dedicated to the memory of the slain journalist.

Kelsey said the concert inspired her to organize a similar event in Santa Clarita Valley in October. It was a yearlong effort that culminated in a successful concert that Pearl’s mother attended.

It also drew recognition from Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, who called Kelsey on Tuesday, inviting her to City Hall to be honored on Dec. 1.

Daniel Pearl World Music Days concert took place in Valencia United Methodist Church on Oct. 24. One of the honored guests at the event was Pearl’s mother, Ruth Pearl.

“I was thrilled and delighted to be a part of such a wonderful tribute to my son, and I am very grateful to you and all the other people who worked so hard to organize the concert in his memory,” Ruth Pearl said in a letter to Kelsey’s mother, Belinda Taylor.

Young performers from throughout the Santa Clarita Valley participated in the concert, including the Valencia High School drum line, ESCAPE Theatre, the Temple Beth Ami Youth Choir, Symphony of the Canyons, Hart High School Sound Vibes, the Canyon High School Madrigals and musicians such as Evan Luo, Taylor Reynolds, Aubrie Alexander, Kevin Arucan and many others.

Kelsey’s idea was to create a platform for school musicians across the valley to perform in a noncompetitive manner.

“Usually when they get together, they compete,” Kelsey said. “And the whole purpose of Daniel Pearl events is to bring people together.”

Several other groups also pitched in for the event.

Valencia United Methodist Church donated its space for the concert. Members of Music Students Service League and Music Teachers Association helped organize it, and Mothers of Preschoolers provided food and drinks for a reception.

Many others helped Kelsey promote the concert or contributed in other ways.

“It was a true community event,” Belinda Taylor said. “People from all over just gave their time and resources. It was incredible.”

After the event was over, Kelsey and her mother reflected on the past five months of organizing.

“It was scary at first,” Kelsey said. “But this was a true learning experience.”

“I learned that no matter which background you have and what color your skin is, everyone can play music. Music connects people through so many ways,” she said.

Kelsey admires the strength of the Pearl family: They took their despair over the loss of their son and turned it into hope that music can unite people and bring tolerance and peace. Daniel Pearl shared that belief.

Since the start of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, there have been more than 6,000 performances in 110 countries under the Daniel Pearl World Music Days, according to the foundation’s website,

The concert in Valencia added one more to that number.

Kelsey said she wants to put together another Daniel Pearl World Music Days concert in Santa Clarita next year. She believes that Daniel Pearl’s story should teach people a lesson of tolerance, and added that she is dedicated to spreading that message through music.


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