Holocaust Instruments to be Played in ‘Violins of Hope’ Concert

By Bethany BROWN

The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony will play the Violins of Hope on Sunday, Dec. 12 at The Soraya in Northridge. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on www.thesoraya.org or by calling (818) 677-3000.

The Violins of Hope is a private collection of more than 50 rescued and restored violins, violas and cellos played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. These instruments have survived concentration camps, pogroms and many long journeys to tell remarkable stories of injustice, suffering, resilience and survival. The instruments represented strength and optimism for the future during mankind’s darkest hour.

By playing the instruments today and displaying them at various exhibitions across the globe, the intent is to educate the public and memorialize the many lives that were lost as well as those who survived the atrocities inflicted upon the Jewish community.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that postponed the originally scheduled concert in early 2020, the collection of historic instruments has remained in safekeeping for nearly two years as they awaited their return to the stage.

Owners Amnon Weinstein and son Avshalom are Israeli violin-makers who have spent decades locating and piecing the instruments back together so they could be played again. Although most of the musicians who originally played the instruments were silenced by the Holocaust, their voices and spirits live on through performance.

Dr. Noreen Green, LAJS conductor and founder, said this will be the first time the musicians and orchestra will have the opportunity to play the instruments.

Photos courtesy of LAJS

“There’s really just a plethora of emotions,” Green said. “We had to reschedule and cancel twice so the fact that it’s actually happening is very exciting.”

Green emphasized that her orchestra is dedicated to performing music that explores Jewish culture, heritage and experience. As part of its mission, it is committed to building bridges of music and understanding within the diverse, multi-ethnic communities of our great city.

“This Violins of Hope is as close to our mission as you can get,” Green said. “It’s a very personal experience for me to be able to conduct this and bring to life these instruments that were rescued from the Holocaust.”

While LAJS awaited the rescheduling of the event, Green said other violins that had survived the Holocaust surfaced in the Los Angeles area and have since been donated to the collection. She recalled attending a high school reunion and connecting with somebody who had one in the family that needed to be restored – the individual’s mother had survived the Holocaust, went into hiding and the only thing she brought with her was her violin.

“As the violins have toured around the world, stories like this have come up but to have it happen so close to me was super impactful,” Green said. “I felt this tremendous responsibility of taking this violin, keeping it safe and I just couldn’t stop thinking about what it had been through and what it had seen.”

Green said that that violin has since been restored and will be played in the upcoming concert with the other survivors. The program will feature violinist Lindsay Deutsch and cellist Barry Gold performing John Williams’ “Schindler’s List Suite;” Max Bruch “Kol Nidre;” Ernest Bloch’s “Baal Shem: Three Pictures of Hassidic Life;” and Sid Robinovitch’s “Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra.

Deutsch is presently touring as a solo violinist with Yanni; she just returned from Saudi Arabia and is currently on a 60-city tour with him in the U.S. Gold is a longtime member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and attended Juilliard School of Music, which awarded him the Eduard Steuermann Memorial Prize upon his graduation in 1979.

“There’s nothing like live music and the connection it brings among humans,” Green said. “What better way to celebrate our coming out into the world again – and coming together after months of isolation and uncertainty – than with this concert?”

Green stressed her consideration for those who may feel hesitant to attend a live indoor event amid the pandemic but wanted to provide reassurance to the public of the effort and precautions being implemented to ensure the safety of the audience. Only those who are vaccinated can attend and masks will be required for all attendees. She hopes those who are able will come and celebrate the concert’s core message of “hope” as a community.

The Soraya in Northridge is located on the campus of California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.