Daniel Pearl’s Wisdom and Music Find a Home on Campus

Patrick Kenney
Editor In Chief
@PRyKenney

Photo courtesy of Steve Roulier.
Photo courtesy of Steve Roulier.

Campus will sound differently next Thursday, Oct. 1.

Sure there will be the typical sounds. Students ordering coffee, cold or hot, from Phyllis at Dunkin Donuts. Cars taking their daily trips down Alden Street. The occasional basketball bouncing.

But it will also be alive with the sound of music. The high-pitched sounds of the children from the Zanetti School Choir. The elegant sound of Springfield College alum, Carmen Callender. And the rhythmic swing of the Community Music School CMG Jazz Ensemble.

For Steve Roulier, the music will mean something more.

Roulier, Springfield College’s executive director of marketing and communications, is connected with the Daniel Pearl World Music Days personally.

Pearl was a courageous journalist who lost his life at age 38 in Pakistan in 2002. But journalism was only one of his passions.

“Danny was just very eclectic and full of life. I remember we used to come home and he would sit there and play the violin and then we would put on punk music. He loved music,” said Roulier, Pearl’s former roommate and close friend.

“He treated everyone the same and always wanted to seek more information out about others and how he can bring this world together. He did that through music.”

Pearl came into the world on October 10, 1963. His journalistic prowess was evident even in his young college days at Stanford University. From there, Pearl took his thirst for knowledge and journalism east to Massachusetts, where he met Roulier.

“I came from Adams, Mass. and Danny came from Los Angeles and the two of us just bonded,” said Roulier, who was Pearl’s roommate and colleague at the North Adams Transcript during their early 20s.

“He did that with everybody. He would talk to anybody. Everybody. He always wanted to learn more from people.”

After flip-flopping around the country and slowly gaining recognition through his work, Pearl was offered the job of South Asia Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal.

“That job was the dream job for journalists,” Roulier said. “It was the right job for him.”

Under that title Pearl would investigate and uncover stories about the devastation of war. It was he who broke stories on the U.S. mistakenly bombing a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant and of Al Qaeda’s money laundering through the Tanzanite gem market.

“Daniel was a good journalist and he knew where the stories were,” Roulier said.

It was Pearl’s intuition, knowledge and love for learning that pushed his career and life forward.

On January 23, 2002, Pearl, while investigating a lead, was abducted by Islamic extremists.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York, the whole country was on edge. Nothing seemed right.

“It was really, really tense. We were all nervous,” continued Roulier. “We were all wondering, ‘what did this mean?’ and ‘what was going on here?’”

“Danny was one of the leading journalists at the time and he was trying to make sense of it all.”

On February 21, 2002, Daniel Pearl was murdered.

That year, Roulier and Pearl’s family came up with the idea of a music festival centered around Pearl’s passion for music and people.

“It was always meant to be positive celebration of music and bringing different cultures together,” said Roulier. “We didn’t want it to turn into a funeral.”

Internationally the Daniel Pearl Music Days have reached over 129 countries with more than 11,000 shows being performed throughout the month. Pakistan, where Pearl lost his life, has even joined in the effort to unite the world through music.

And now they join the Springfield community.

“It is a perfect fit for Springfield College,” said Roulier. “Danny lived the Humanics mission more than any one of us ever could and I am more than happy to have it on campus this year.”

“It is important for our students to not fall into the trap of thinking [Springfield College] is someplace separate from…the world,” said Chris Haynes, the assistant professor of music on campus and man behind bringing the Daniel Pearl World Music Days to campus.

“This is one of those days where our students can feel that connection to the community.”

Community outreach and connection have always been a part of the formula at Springfield College. The Music Days only further extend that reach.

The month-long festival is simply a way to celebrate differences and bring communities together through music much like Pearl did.

“It is a great opportunity to address diversity in a positive and uplifting way,” said Haynes. “The day is meant to highlight the musical connection we all have.”

Daniel Pearl loved life, people and music.

For the Daniel Pearl Music Days it’s not about mourning or sadness; it’s about connection and celebration through music and life.

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