From The Berkshire Eagle
June 12, 2003

PHS Senior Awarded First Pearl Berkshire Scholarship 
By Susan Bush

 

PITTSFIELD — The first Daniel Pearl Berkshire Scholarship award was presented to Kathryn E. Andersen, a 17-year-old Pittsfield High School senior, during Tuesday’s class night ceremony. Speaking Wednesday, Andersen said she had “no idea” she was the scholarship recipient until her name was announced.

 

“I had applied, but I knew nothing about being chosen until it was announced,” she said. “I feel very honored to be the first recipient.”

 

Andersen said that her parents, David and Sharon Andersen, are excited about the award, and students applauded enthusiastically when she was announced as the recipient of the $1,000 Pearl scholarship.

 

Andersen, who lives with her parents, is set to graduate during the 4 p.m. high school commencement at Tanglewood in Lenox on Sunday.

 

Pearl was working as a journalist for The Wall Street Journal when he was kidnapped by terrorists in Pakistan on Jan. 23, 2002. His murder by his captors was reported on Feb. 21, 2002. Pearl was 38 years old, and was expecting his first child with his wife Mariane at the time of his death. Pearl worked as a reporter for both The Berkshire Eagle and the North Adams Transcript between 1986 and 1990. While he established a solid reputation as an excellent journalist, Pearl was also known as a gifted classical violinist who also played the guitar and mandolin. While in the Berkshires, he also enjoyed playing fiddle with a bluegrass band.

 

The scholarship fund was established with contributions from The Eagle, The Transcript, and friends of Pearl as a way to benefit students who intend to major in journalism or music. For its first year, the scholarship was limited to high school graduates planning to attend college this year.

 

Andersen is building her own reputation as a gifted violinist, and has been accepted at Harvard University, where she plans to major in music.

 

“I would love to take my musical career to the level Danny Pearl took his journalism,” Andersen said.

 

Andersen’s musical career appears headed in a promising direction; in 2002, Andersen captured the top prize at the Schenectady (N.Y.) Symphony Orchestra Anthony R. Stefan Scholarship Competition.

 

She has performed with the Empire State Youth Orchestra for seven years and for two years has served as the orchestra’s concertmaster. She is a winner of the youth orchestra Concerto Competition and has performed on the public radio program “From the Top.”

 

She captured top honors at the Lois Lyman Concerto Competition held earlier this year, as well as the top award at a Berkshire Lyric Theater Young Musicians’ Scholarship Competition.

 

Andersen has attended the Boston University Tanglewood Music Institute during the past three summers and in March performed as a youth orchestra soloist at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

 

Andersen has taken the stage at Symphony Hall in Boston, Carnegie Hall in New York City, Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in Lenox, and in 2000 toured Germany and the Czech Republic with the youth orchestra.

 

“It [music] is my passion in life,” Andersen said.

 

While she does not plan to pursue a journalism career, Andersen’s scholarship application essay revealed a writing talent as she eloquently described her first encounter with a violinist.

 

“A tall, slender woman with light hair and pale eyes entered the room,” Andersen wrote. “Slung over her shoulder was a wide, webbed strap holding a dark brown rectangular case. She placed the mysterious case on the desk. After she opened the latch and drew zippers around the corners of the case, she raised the lid.”

 

Andersen described her anticipation as the woman withdrew a violin from the velvet-lined case, and then began to play the instrument.

 

“The day is clearly etched in my memory,” she wrote. “I was captivated! Too excited to walk, I ran home from school and exclaimed to my mother ‘I want to play the violin!’ I was confident that this was what I wanted to do. The events of that day in the third grade shaped the direction of my life.”

 

According to scholarship guidelines, “Daniel Pearl sometimes said that what inspired him in his career was the hope that he could change the world for the better.” Applicants were asked to describe how their interest in journalism or music could create a better world.

 

Andersen said that music has changed her life, and has the power to “transform the lives of those who listen.”

 

“It is my intention and hope that through my music I will communicate and share the joy and sorrow, solace and suffering, wonder and delight that comprise our common human experience.”