Spreading peace through music

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By Kirsten Laskey

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl would have been 41 years old Friday. But rather than brooding over Pearl’s murder by terrorists, the world is celebrating his life through music and Los Alamos is joining in the festivities.

The Los Alamos Community Winds, featuring Lesley Olsher, will host a concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Betty Ehart Senior Center.

The Los Alamos chapter of Hadassah is promoting the event.

The concert will feature several pieces of music including “Water Music Suite,” by G.F. Handel, “La Cathedrale Englouite” by Claude Debussy, “Victory at Sea,” by Richard Rodgers, “S.S. Eagle March” by Robert Russell Bennett, “Sea Songs,” by Ralph Vaughn-Williams, “Of Sailors and Whales,” by W. Francis McBeth, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” by Claude T. Smith, “Cloudburst,” by Eric Whiteacre and “Shenendoah,” arranged by winds director Ted Vives.

Olsher will perform “Shenendoah.” A performance she said she is honored to do.

She explained Vives’ piece is perfect for her because it has lots of high notes and it’s opportunity to sound pretty.

“So it’s pleasant to ear of the listener.”

Olsher has been entertaining audiences for 20 years. She has recorded two CDs, “Jazz Me,” and “Anyone in Love,” which are available at blackdahlia.com and CD Baby.

She started signing in graduate school.

While earning a master’s in social work at the University of Maryland, Olsher also studied in the preparatory department at Peabody Conservatory.

She said she knew even then that her life needed two parts – music and social work.

Her music education continued with studying opera under Margaret Croce in Santa Fe.

Although Olsher said she received excellent training from Croce, she wanted to sing jazz and the blues.

She also performs praise gospel music through the United Church choir, which is directed by Suzanne Johnson.

Olsher said she enjoys singing because, “I really love melodies and I really love music that makes you want to listen and enjoy it.”

As a member of her church’s choir, Olsher said she is focused on touching people’s emotions through music.

She asks herself, “How can I touch the parishioners and make them feel good about being here?”

Her training in opera also makes Olsher pay attention to pitch. She said she focuses and works on being on pitch all the time.

In addition to singing, Olsher has worked as the case manager for LA Cares for five years. Recently, she accepted a “wonderful position,” as the community coordinator for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Alamos.

As Olsher and the Community Winds take the stage Saturday, they will be joining performers and musicians in 2,000 other concerts being held in six continents, local Hadassah chapter president Yelena Gurvits said.

The world will be remembering Pearl’s life and emphasizing anti-hatred and anti-terrorism.

“In today’s world with the terrorist threat, we need to make people aware that there is a kindness in the world ee Daniel Pearl’s life was a perfect example of a fight against terrorists ee it is very important to make our children aware of such an event,” Gurvits said.

She added the local Hadassah chapter is planning to hold the concert again next year and hope to include the Los Alamos High School orchestra.

It’s important to include young people in the concert to remind them that freedom comes with a price, and it can’t be taken for granted, Gurvits said.

Music is an effective tool to send out these messages, she added, because “music is a wonderful way to get to people’s heart.”

Additionally, the event will bring the community together, not only on a local level but on an international one, too, Gurvits said.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation, which Pearl’s parents created, established World Music Days.

It seems fitting since Pearl was violinist himself.

Admission to the concert is free, however, there is a $5 suggested donation.