Passion for peace Noland Shaheed

Passion for peace

The 11th annual Peace Through Music concert brings harmony to the community in more ways than one

By Carl Kozlowsk 10/14/2010

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Nat Nehdar will never forget the day that two disturbed teenage boys showed up at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., and opened fire, killing or injuring dozens. But rather than just being haunted by his recollections of the news from April 20, 1999, Nehdar actively moved to do his part to ensure that no student would ever again feel a need to resort to violence.

A longtime community activist, Nehdar vowed to spend the rest of his life speaking against violence to Pasadena public school students. He also chairs the Pasadena Human Relations Commission, and for the past 11 years has produced an annual concert in the Crown City that he hopes will inspire other residents to take up the use of nonviolent conflict resolution and prevent future Columbines from occurring.

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nehdar will present his 11th annual Peace Through Music concert, which brings together a dozen different performers and groups ranging from nationally renowned jazz musician Nolan Shaheed and poet Douglas Kearney to the Folklorico Sol y Luna dance troupe for an evening of engaging entertainment.

“We wanted to use music as the language of love to spread a message to the community of ending hate, giving hope and bringing joy and saving our children from violence,” says Nehdar. “The concert has been a cornerstone in our city and has been well-received by city and state officials over the years. You'll not only hear some outstanding music but show support for peace in our schools.”

Among the other acts on the night’s bill are pianists Hannah Chang, Jackie Chu and Shannon Hsu, violinist Enoch Chang, ballerina Victoria Gu, and Lawrence Lee, who performs on the erhu, or Chinese two-string instrument. In addition, pastor-vocalist Scott Anderson will perform musically, providing a personal connection between the event and its location at the First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena.

Nehdar is particularly enthused about Pei-Chun Tsai of the San Diego Symphony taking part in the event, since she is coming to town on a special trip for the event. In addition, “every one of these young musicians has performed with orchestras before, which is very impressive and that’s why we call them ‘the stars of tomorrow,’” says Nehdar.

“The truly special part for me is that we must keep our commitment and strive every day to save human lives, especially our children, from violence,” says Nehdar. “By their presence in the church, they are also showing their commitment to peace and harmony. Afterwards, I don’t think ‘I could have done that, I should have done that.’ I make sure that something is done to prevent violence and to overcome hate, discrimination and prejudice every day.”

The 11th annual “Peace Through Music” concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena, 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena. Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 for seniors and students, with kids under age 11 free, and are available at the door.


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