“Violins of Hope” Concert Comes to L.A. After Long Pandemic Delays

December 10, 2021
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Soraya

After a year and a half delay, the Violins of Hope symphonic concert featuring string instruments from before and during the Holocaust will be performed in front of a live Los Angeles audience on December 12.

If violins could talk, this group of violins would tell of an incredible journey they have experienced in not just the last 18 months, but in the last 80 years. They were originally owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. Many were played in concentration camps, as a background score to pacify the horrors in their midst.

Noreen Green. Photo credit: Leon Saperstein

When Dr. Noreen Green takes the baton as conductor on Sunday night at The Soraya in Northridge, the backstory of the instruments will be a show in and of themselves.

 “The violin is something that you take with you throughout your life,” Green told the Journal. “That’s why these Violins of Hope have such meaning, because they were played by people who either survived or didn’t survive the Holocaust. And now we have these instruments to tell their stories.”

Green has been involved in music for her entire life, starting with learning piano at age five. She taught music at Cal State Northridge for 10 years, was the music director at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino for 20 years and founded the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony in 1994.

She chose the pieces that will be played at the Violins of Hope show, which will include John Williams’ “Schindler’s List Suite,” Max Bruch’s “Kol Nidre,” Ernest Bloch’s “Baal Shem: Three Pictures of Hassidic Life”  and Sid Robinovitch’s “Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra.”

There is a special powerful emotion that can be evoked by the violin and its fellow classical string instruments, and Green shared a theory as to why.

“Some say that the violin is the closest [sounding instrument] to the human voice,” she said. This makes much sense, especially when you consider how often the violin and cello are the soundtrack to some of the most heart-wrenching and sentimental moments in film and television.

According to Green, the experience of playing has an extra level of profoundness for the performers, since the vibrations of the wood flow from the violinist’s chin (where the violin rests) and resonate throughout their body as they play.

“Violins of Hope” was supposed to happen in March of 2020, but due to the pandemic, was indefinitely postponed. The instruments themselves were stored under the stage at The Soraya for several months before being sent back to their homebase in Tel Aviv with violin makers and collectors Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein.

Green said that she and everyone involved draw immense inspiration for telling the story of Holocaust, and give an experiential avenue of teaching for young people in particular.

“For kids to learn the stories of the violin and then to hear the violins is a different way of keeping the stories of the survivors alive. It’s just another way of educating kids and people about the Holocaust.”

The “Violins of Hope” concert is at 7:00 p.m. on December 12 at The Soraya in Northridge. Tickets are available here: https://www.thesoraya.org/calendar/details/lajs-2021

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