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Violins of Hope Debuts Virtual Musical and Theatrical Performances

The long-awaited Violins of Hope concert celebrating instruments rescued from the Holocaust and restored by father and son Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein will finally take place virtually Jan. 14.
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January 11, 2021
The Solo Violin (Credit: Violins of Hope)

The long-awaited Violins of Hope concert celebrating instruments rescued from the Holocaust and restored by father and son Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein will finally take place virtually Jan. 14.

Postponed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the multi-format Violins of Hope project was initially set to take place at concert venues, synagogues and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in a spring concert tour.

Since the collection of instruments had to return to Tel Aviv, Violins of Hope Los Angeles is presenting a reimagined opening night performance. Unlike a standard opening night, each performance brings a tapestry of musical and cultural experiences from around the world.

Susanne Reyto, chair of the Violins of Hope Project in Los Angeles, and herself a Holocaust survivor told the Journal, especially now in this current political climate, it is her mission to educate the next generation about the Holocaust. Before the pandemic, Reyto would speak at the Holocaust Museum L.A. and now on Zoom. She said students need to learn stories of the Holocaust in unique ways because they aren’t being taught in school. She says Violins of Hope is a great educational resource.

“The violins are survivors. Their restoration demonstrated our ability to rise from the ashes and succeed,” she said. “After we are gone, the violins will remain and keep speaking to the world the language of music. Hopefully, people will understand the importance of music in our lives as well as in the lives of Holocaust victims, where music either saved or prolonged their lives.”

“The violins are survivors. Their restoration demonstrated our ability to rise from the ashes and succeed.” — Susanne Reyto

During the virtual concert, audiences will hear from the New West Symphony Orchestra from Thousand Oaks, The Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic and The Legal Voices choir. One of the students Reyto has worked with at the Holocaust Museum L.A. will be playing the theme from “Schindler’s List” on his violin.

Audiences will also see the family workshop in Tel Aviv. This inside look presents the father-and-son’s perspective on the importance of this project. For decades the Weinstein’s have used their private collection of more than 60 violins, violas and cellos— all restored since the end of World War II— to tell the story of the instruments’ previous owners, each with their personal stories from the Holocaust. They aim to teach future generations of Jews to be informed strong citizens and to stand up against hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism.

“It is such a key instrument of learning and creating a better world,” Reyto said. “Everybody should be part of it and everybody should be embracing the Violins of Hope program because of what it stands for and symbolizes.”

Reyto is also the producer of the new theatrical production of “Stories From the Violins of Hope.” On Jan. 31, The Braid (formerly Jewish Women’s Theatre), the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Chamber Players (LAJSCP), and Temple Isaiah will honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day with the world premiere virtually.

The theatrical production, which will be available live on Zoom, is the first to tell the story of the famed collection of stringed instruments that survived the Holocaust and were brought back to life by the family of violin makers. Virtuoso violinist, Niv Ashkenazi, will play the only violin from the Violins of Hope collection currently in the United States. The play was written by The Braid’s Advisory Council member Lisa Rosenbaum and directed by The Braid’s Producing Director Susan Morgenstern.

Temple Isaiah Rabbi Jaclyn Cohen and Cantor Tifani Coyot will open the production with a song of remembrance, setting the tone for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Stories from the Violins of Hope” came about through the efforts of Gail Solo, a principal underwriter of the event and Temple Isaiah congregant.

“I am honored to be the matchmaker for this collaboration. I have spent my life living with the mantra, `Never Forget and Never Again,’” Solo said in a statement to the Journal. “This production fulfills that commandment, and is particularly poignant as the last survivors of the Shoah are leaving our world.”

Dr. Noreen Green, artistic director of the LAJSCP, curated the music that will be performed by LAJSCP throughout the play. Green said, “The violins will outlive Holocaust survivors and be there to tell the story to the next generation.”

The Violins of Hope performance is on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. PST. The program is presented free of charge, but registration is required. To RSVP click here. Tickets for “Stories From the Violins of Hope” start at $36. The performance is on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. PST. For ticket information click here.

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