The Center for Holocaust and Gender Studies-Muskegon is inviting the public to view the film “Stories from the Violins of Hope” and to participate in an online question-and-answer session with the director, writer and one of the actors.
The virtual event, which takes place on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 7:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., is free and open to the public. Instructions for joining the online event appear below. The showing coincides with the International Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the day that Soviet troops entered Auschwitz liberating those Jews who were not forced to endure the death marches.
“Stories From the Violins of Hope” is an original drama which brings stories of surviving Holocaust violins to new generations through a filmed performance by The Braid, formerly the Jewish Women’s Theatre. The film tells the true story of the famed collection of stringed instruments that survived the Holocaust and were brought back to life, and to the world, by an Israeli family of violin makers.
The filmed performance features seven actors along with five musicians from the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJSCP), including virtuoso violinist Niv Ashkenazi, who plays a violin from the Violins of Hope collection.
“I had to find a way to let these violins speak, to tell the world they were once played by people who had dreams, and so much talent that has been lost,” said violin maker Amnon Weinstein, who founded the traveling Violins of Hope project with his son, to playwright Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum.
“Every piece of music played on them says, ‘Never Again,’” added Weinstein, who lives in Israel, where he continues to restore Holocaust violins sent to him from all over the world.
Rosenbaum based the story on her extensive conversations with Weinstein and her research about the violins.
“What struck me was that Amnon’s father, Moshe, was also an extraordinary violin maker,” she recounted. “He left Lithuania for Palestine before World War II and set up a music store and workshop in Tel Aviv. Members of the newly founded Palestine Orchestra, now the Israel Philharmonic, all of whom were exiled Jews from Europe, wanted to get rid of their German-made instruments. Moshe could not bear to destroy them, so he put them away in his attic. Years later, his son Amnon reclaimed and restored them, and added them to his collection of violins that survived concentration camps, ghettos, transport trains and the forests of Eastern Europe. This is a story that needs to be told.”
“The violins will outlive Holocaust survivors and be there to tell the story to the next generation,” said Dr. Noreen Green, Artistic Director of the LAJSCP. Green curated the music performed by LAJSCP throughout Rosenbaum’s play.
“We are honored and thrilled to have found a way to present this fresh, original, deeply moving work which gives voice to our Jewish heritage in a unique and contemporary way,” added The Braid’s Artistic Director Rhonda Spinak, who produced “Stories from the Violins of Hope.”
“The Braid’s Advisory Council Member and writer Lisa Rosenbaum’s unforgettable script, enhanced by the beautiful music, offers a soulful way into this moving story and gives a gift to each audience member that will long be remembered.”
The film’s subject, Amnon Weinstein, concurs with the sentiment.
“Every performance with the Violins of Hope is a monument to a boy, a girl, a man, a woman who cannot speak anymore,” he concluded. “It reminds us that as long as the song of a violin can be heard, there is reason to have hope.”
To participate in the Center for Holocaust and Gender Studies-Muskegon event on Jan. 27:
- Watch the two-minute trailer on You Tube at: https://youtu.be/N4FBVBL0ck4
- Click on the following Eventbrite link to make your reservation: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/stories-from-the-violins-of-hope-tickets-229625695637
- Receive the Vimeo link along with a password to watch the 56-minute film on either Jan. 26 or Jan. 27; and
- Receive a Zoom link for the Q & A session with the director, the writer, and one of the actors. from 7:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 27.
For more information, contact Chris Anderson, Chair of the Center for Holocaust and Gender Studies-Muskegon, at firstname.lastname@example.org.