String instruments are exceptional pieces of artwork that seem to be forever imprinted by their past, and maybe even contain hints of their future.
It was said that the famous string instrument maker, Antonio Stradivarius, could perceive or intuit the sound quality that the wood of each tree would make while he walked among the trees in search of materials to make a violin, viola, or cello.
Perhaps then in the very DNA of a tree that an instrument was made from, lies the code for a potential musical destiny.
The wood is then crafted with the artistry of its maker, and later imprinted by the musicians who play it, as well as the composers whose music reverberates in the wood.
These beautiful instruments certainly seem to pose secrets, stories, and the ineffable music that comes through it.
World class Israeli luthier, Amnon Weinstein, understands this profoundly. He has spend the last few decades locating and restoring the violins of the Holocaust as a tribute to those who were lost—including hundreds of his own relatives—as a way to teach and inspire future generations.
He calls these the Violins of Hope.
This passion was ignited in the late 1980s when a man who played the violin in Auschwitz visited Weinstein and asked if he would restore his violin for his grandson, though he had not played the instrument since leaving the camp.
Weinstein soon had a new mission in life—to restore all the violins he could get his hands on that had been played by Jews in ghettos, forest hideouts, and concentration camp orchestras.
His work of redeeming the instruments, and by proxy, their owners, was a solo endeavor for years before Weinstein’s son continued the family business, joining him at his Tel Aviv workshop.
Violins of Hope have appeared in books, print, on television, as well as the documentary, “Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust,” narrated by Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody.
Violins of Hope travel the globe providing educational programs to school age children, playing in concert halls, and exhibiting in museums throughout the world—giving life and legacy to the violins, and connecting the listeners to a difficult history with profound lessons of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity that are perhaps more important today then ever.
“Music connects us to history in a way we can relate to, and that’s particularly true of the violins. Just thinking about the role violins played during the Holocaust makes us shiver as we feel, think, and identify with the victims,” explains Amnon Weinstein, according to the Violins of Hope Birmingham website.
Now, with the love and dedication of Weinstein, these Violins of Hope reveal the instruments’ long held secrets, recount their heartbreaking and triumphant stories, and share the music they were created for, impacting hundreds of thousands of individuals, while creating new stories as they travel, inspire and educate future generations.
Violins of Hope can be experienced in the Phoenix area in February and March 2019.
The Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra featuring Israeli-born violinist Gil Shaham, will open Violins of Hope Phoenix with two orchestral concerts on Saturday evening, February 23rd and Sunday afternoon, February 24, 2019.
For Saturday Night, February 23, 2019: Box Office: 480-499-8587. Group Discounts (10 tickets or more): Only available through the Box Office or email [email protected]
For Sunday Matinee, February 24, 2019: Box Office: 480-422-8449. Group Discounts (10 tickets or more): Only available through the Box Office.
Also performing at Chandler Center for the Arts: February 25, 2019. To book reservations, please call 480-782-2680. At Scottsdale Center for the Arts: March 4-5, 2019. For reservations please call 480-499-8587 and ask for the Education Department.
A variety of education programs are also offered for students in grades 6-12 at performing arts centers and school campuses throughout the Valley. Email [email protected] for more information.