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Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin Recipients - Click here to learn more about the Memorial Violin



"I am so honored and humbled by being this year’s recipient of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin. This symbol of unity and peace has so much meaning and power behind it and what better way to keep Daniel’s message alive than through this mission of connecting people through music. The Daniel Pearl Violin is simple and profound and I hope to transmit that idea whenever and wherever I play this beautiful instrument."

Violinist, fiddler, and mandolin player Ian Stewart began studying classical violin with Dr. Diane Dickson at the age of six in his hometown of Austin, Texas. His musical journey began with Suzuki lessons and took a turn when he attended his first Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp at the age of 10. It was there that Ian discovered the sound of traditional American and world music under the instruction of some of the greatest American and international performers and teachers.

Currently Ian is a 16 year old junior at Westlake High school in Austin where he continues to play in the orchestra program under the direction of Mr. James Edwards. He has excelled in region and state contests and will be traveling with his orchestra this year to Chicago to perform at the prestigious Midwest Clinic 2008. Ian is one of the founding members of the cross-genre Americana band The Fireants. The Fireants are the current winners of the Old Settlers Music Festival new talent competition and can be seen performing regularly on the Austin music scene.

Composing, performing and exploring all styles of music are Ian’s passions. Studying with the greatest fiddle players both at home and nationally have allowed Ian to stretch his playing skills along with his love of music.



"It is an honor for me to receive the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin. It has brought upon me the determination and commitment to sending a message of peace through the language of music. It has inspired me to explore new ways of connecting to people and promoting Daniel's mission of tolerance."

Fourteen-year old Sam Weiser began his career in music at the early age of 3 at the Suzuki Music School in Westport, Connecticut. Currently, the First Violinist in the Apollo Quartet; he was Concertmaster for the Norwalk Youth Symphony from 2004-2007, and in 2008 he became the youngest first violinist in its Principal Orchestra. In 2006, he was also Concertmaster of the Fairfield County Honors Orchestra and Concertmaster of his school's Honors Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Future Stars Soloist for the CT Alliance for Music Fundraiser.

Sam enjoys exploring alternative strings styles- jazz, old time, rock and Klezmer. He was the runner up in the 2007 ASTA's National Alternative Strings Competition, has attended Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camps in Nashville and San Diego and has performed with both O’Connor and with Yale Strom, one of the country's leading Klezmer musicians and scholars.

An enthusiastic Mets fan, Sam plays violin, electric violin, viola, mandolin and guitar. He has played for numerous charitable and civic organizations at diverse venues from Carnegie Hall to the Rich Forum to New Pond Farms May Day and currently studies both classical with Asya Meshberg and jazz violin with recording artist Sara Caswell, as well as music theory and composition with Paul>



“I am so very honored to be awarded the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin! I hope we can all play for peace and harmony during Daniel Pearl World Music Days!”

Born on November 17, 1994, in Dallas, TX, Ruby Jane Smith isone of the world's premiere junior fiddlers and a fast-rising star in the landscape of country, bluegrass-Americana music. With deep familial and cultural ties throughout the Southeast, she resides in Columbus, MS, when not traveling as a musician, actress, or model.

Ruby Jane exhibited a strong connection to music as  early as age one-  responding to the rhythms of traditional Hebrew music.  She began classical violin instruction at age two and at age eight was introduced to old-time and bluegrass music. Subsequently, she began old-time fiddle lessons and after only six lessons won first place in a competition. Granted an apprenticeship with the reknowned old time fiddler Charles T. Smith by the Mississippi Arts Commission, since 2005 she has competed in dozens of prestigious music competitions including  the National Beginners Fiddle Championship which ranked her first nationally in her age category. In 2005, she also was named Mississippi State Fiddle Champion. 

Ruby Jane has acted in film, contributed an original song to a film soundtrack, performed on the coveted Grand Ole Opry stage (making history as the youngest ever invited fiddler) as well as at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. She is featured in a documentary about the legendary fiddler Jim Brock, with whom she now studies.. Now a veteran to radio, televison, film, and the press, she has appeared in such publications as W magazine, British Vogue, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, and in 2006 CBS News featured her on "Eye on America" , playing on  American Airlines in-flight news program.

Ruby Jane listens to all kinds of music, writes her own original songs and plays several instruments including mandolin, harmonica, guitar, and spoons. She is learning to play bass, banjo, and dobro. Her newest CD “Creekside” is available as well as several videos on YouTube.  




“It's an incredible honor to be a part of Daniel Pearl's legacy”, said Barnett. “Hopefully, the music will bring people together and touch people's lives. Winning this award has made me realize that music is really an international language; that no matter where you are in this world, music can bring people together."

Mike Barnett is an eighteen year-old native of Nashville, Tennessee. Beginning with Suzuki Violin at the age of 4, he started serious fiddle study at age 10 with Crystal Plohman, Director of Vanderbilt’s Fiddling Program at the Blair School of Music who recently described Mike as "one of the hottest, fastest rising musicians in bluegrass music."

Mike moved to New England in 2000 and has performed at a variety of prestigious venues including The Kennedy Center for the Arts, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.  Mike recently completed a one year festival tour across the country with bluegrass legend Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys. He recently joined the New England based folk/acoustic/bluegrass phenomenon, Northern Lights,  tours with Tony Trischka and Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular and often accompanies Amy Gallatin and Stillwater, the New England Bluegrass Band and others. 

Mike placed 9th in the Grand Master's Fiddle Championship in 2005 and was 2006 recipient of the Alternative Styles Musicianship Award-Junior Category from  the American String Teachers Association. He was honored at the 2007 Mark O'Connor Strings Conference in San Diego as a recipient of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin made by Jon Cooper.

Mike's debut CD, "Lost Indian" is a collection of bluegrass favorites recorded in Nashville with some of Music City's greatest session musicians. Together with Gordon Stone and Aram Bedrosian he released a second CD, "Rhymes with Orange" a unique compilation of original acoustic melodies and funk adaptations of traditional fiddle tunes. Mike's most recent recorded work is with mandolinist Joe Walsh on" Fly Around" released in Spring 2007. A CD with Northern Lights is expected soon.



 “We are honored to receive such a prestigious award, and we plan to ensure the year that we have this violin is one in which we can uphold the honor of a man who lived and died for what he believed in,” John and James stated.

The Abrams Brothers ( burst onto the Canadian bluegrass music scene in 1999 when John and James were 9 and 6. (John is now 16, and James is 13.)  Like Daniel Pearl, they were initially trained on classical violin but have since expanded their musical scope to include playing bluegrass fiddle and mandolin, as well as other stringed instruments. The highlight of their young careers came in October of 2005 when they made their debut appearance at country music’s most prestigious venue, Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. They also have been featured on a variety of award winning radio shows and have played at many prestigious bluegrass and gospel venues and festivals throughout Canada, the United States and Europe.



“For me, the fiddle is a symbol of peace, and I am truly humbled by being awarded the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin.  Like Danny Pearl, I believe that music is the one pure force that can bridge the differences between people. Without saying a word, two people who speak different languages can find a deep connection through a single note.  I will treasure the year that I am privileged to play this wonderful instrument.”

Phoebe Hunt, 22, grew up in Austin, Texas, and she has been playing violin since she was six years old.  She currently teaches violin at the Austin Montessori School and will graduate from the University of Texas this December with a history degree.   Although she was trained as a classical violinist, the fiddle has become her passion, and she is a member of the popular Austin-based band, the Hudsons (, the self-proclaimed hardest working band in Texas, which is currently working on their third album.



“We are all part of this world, we should live life to the fullest and enjoy each other.”

Samantha Robichaud’s track record of over 200 awards for a variety of fiddle specialties, make her an up and coming force to be reckoned with. Her fourth recording, “Vivacious”, received two East Coast Music Awards nominations in the Instrumental Artist & Roots/Traditional Categories, displaying the influences of her Acadian heritage.  She has been showcased at the International Folk Alliance Conference in San Diego, in New York at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and in Montreal at the the Folk Alliance/Strickly Mundial.  A Principal Violin with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, Robichaud played with the Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 2003.

Displaying a special affinity for the ideals that Pearl displayed throughout his work makes Robichaud a natural spokesperson for preserving Pearl’s legacy through her music. “On my last CD I wrote a song called ‘Why does it matter?’  I wrote it from my heart, why does it matter our color, our citizenship, religions? We are all part of this world, we should live life to the fullest and enjoy each other. Since I did not have the opportunity to meet this wonderful man, I am so honored to be chosen to be part of keeping his memory alive.”




“I can't believe how many times I've started jamming with someone I don't really know, and then suddenly it feels like we're best friends. I can't think of a better way to bring people together than through music." - Alex Hargreaves in regards to his responsibility as an ambassador of peace.

Alex Hargreaves has been playing violin and fiddle music for more than nine years. Along the way, he has studied a wide variety of string music styles including classical, jazz, bluegrass, newgrass, Scottish, Texas style, and western swing.

A boundless enthusiasm and open minded approach to string music has led Alex to pursue musical study from a wide variety of mentors, in an array of settings including the Mark O'Connor Strings Conference; as well as many others. Although his main instrument is violin, he aspires to be a multi-instrumentalist and has been studying the mandolin, piano and guitar, as well as singing in a choir.

As a classical player, Alex has performed as concert master with the Willamette Chamber Orchestra, and as a guest soloist.



“I feel very honored to have received the Daniel Pearl dedication violin, and I feel spiritually connected to the cause of this musical mission of peace.  I think its one of the most beautiful things ever to see people of all backgrounds come together, to be moved and transported to heaven by music, overcoming all the ugliness, hatred, and greed in the world. Our calling as musicians is to keep making beautiful music so that people are constantly being reminded of the positive side of Life.”

Kailin Yong came to the USA in 1999 to help found the Aerith String Quartet, performing extensively in the USA and Asia. Kailin eventually settled in Boulder, CO, and now performs across the USA as a solo artist as well as playing with Boulder Acoustic Society (neo-acoustic jazz), the Colorado Mahlerfestival Orchestra, the Tango Camerata (Argentine tango), and Saltanah Ensemble (Middle Eastern).

His band Boulder Acoustic Society was the winner of the Notes@9000 Emerging Artists Competition. Kailin combines his multitude of interests in the multi-genre project Infinite Possibilities Of the Violin (IPOV). He is also involved with Colorado chamber music outreach programs Up Close and Musical Ensemble and Art Reaching Kids. Kailin has been a teacher of violin and improvisational styles for more than ten years, and was invited as a soloist and instructor at the First Asia Suzuki Conference.

In 2005, Kailin Yong and the Boulder Acoustical Society composed a new piece of music dedicated to the memory of Daniel Pearl. “Karma,” written for acoustic quartet and symphony orchestra includes elements of free improvisation, world music, and the western classical tradition. The piece premiered on May 15th in a concert with the Boulder Youth Symphony Orchestra. Students of BYSO were taught to reach beyond their expectations of orchestra music and asked to speak a mantra calling, “Peace, For Humanity, Through Music.”

Visit the Boulder Acoustic Society to hear "Karma"




 "Daniel believed in the power of music, a power that can promote understanding, friendship and harmony among people. This power is real; there are moments during performances when I feel a profound sense of purpose, communication and joy among listeners and musicians.

These moments are the reason I perform, and they show how powerful music can be in making connections between people. Receiving the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin has given me new inspiration to bring people together through music, a goal that will remain central to me for years to come."

"Outstanding Michigan Celtic-jazz-bluegrass fiddle wiz Jeremy Kittel" (-The Boston Globe) is rapidly earning a reputation as one of the nation's most creative young musicians. As a classically-trained youngster, he often traveled to Ireland and Scotland to study traditional music; at home in the U.S., he was exposed to the rich music scene in his native Ann Arbor / Detroit area. In addition to performing with his own band and as a soloist with orchestras, Kittel tours worldwide as the newest member of the Grammy-winning Turtle Island Quartet.

The 24-year-old fiddler/violinist/composer has earned an impressive list of accolades including the 2000 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championship and the 2006 Detroit Music Award for Best Jazz Recording. At the University Of Michigan School Of Music, Kittel graduated at twenty and received the Stanley Medal, their highest musical honor, and he recently received a masters degree in Jazz Performance from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. Kittel has performed at over a thousand concerts and festivals over the past few years including the Kennedy Center, "A Prairie Home Companion,"the Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony, and Carnegie Hall. He has appeared as guest artist with the Vancouver Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, and Darol Anger's Republic of Strings, and he has taught at many camps and schools such as the International Music Academy in the Czech Republic and the Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camps.

His first CD, "Celtic Fiddle," was named "one of the top 20 Celtic albums of 2000" by the radio show Celtic Connections. His second, "Roaming," took second place for Best Celtic Instrumental Album in a competition of 10,000 CDs. His most recent recording, "Jazz Violin,"won the 2006 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Jazz Recording. His fourth CD, soon to be released, features special guests including Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile. In January of 2008 he road-tripped with his brother from New York City to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he currently resides.