Two Violins of Hope featured concerts with the Richmond Symphony are now sold out, but a third featured concert now will be held, the Virginia Holocaust Museum has announced.
The concert will be held on Sunday, Sept. 12, 3 p.m. at the Dominion Energy Center’s Carpenter Theatre, 300 E. Grace St., Richmond. The Richmond Symphony will play some of the restored violins from the Holocaust in this unforgettable concert.
For information about tickets, visit: violinsofhoperva.com.
“The beautiful and haunting music created by long-neglected composers is brought to life through violins that have been restored to concert-quality condition,” said VHM Executive Director Samuel Asher. “The first two featured concerts sold out quickly, so we are delighted to partner with the Richmond Symphony on this additional opportunity to experience the powerful message of resilience that the Violins of Hope bring to our community.”
The repertoire will be identical to that of the other two featured concerts by the Richmond Symphony. Several of the selected pieces were written in concentration camps during the Holocaust by artists who ultimately perished in Auschwitz.
After about three-and-a-half years of planning, the internationally acclaimed Violins of Hope exhibit arrived in Richmond in early August for the first time with a large turnout of community members and special guests at several events and an opening concert at the Museum.
Violins of Hope features a collection of restored violins that were played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. These inspirational string instruments have survived concentration camps and long journeys to share stories of redemption, resilience, and the legacy of Jewish musicians.
Violins from the collection are on exhibit at three locations in Richmond: the Virginia Holocaust Museum, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture and the Black History Museum and Cultural Center. Each museum showcases different violins with separate stories and backgrounds. They will be on display until Oct. 24. In addition, a number of concerts and special events are planned.
Community Opening Events
At a community event for special guests including exhibit sponsors at the VHM on Aug. 4, Executive Director Samuel Asher noted, “It is really wonderful to welcome you here tonight. I want to thank our presenting sponsors who have done an amazing job – Weinstein Properties, the Windsor Foundation and Dominion Philanthropic Foundation. I particularly want to thank Carole and Marcus Weinstein for everything they do for the Museum and Greater Richmond.”
He also recognized all the individual and corporate sponsors for their support of Violins of Hope. Many were on hand that night.
“It takes a village for us to pull this together,” Asher said. “I can’t thank enough all the organizations, our Board, the elected officials, the Richmond Symphony and the two other museums who helped pull this together.”
Story of History, Memory and Family
He continued, “Violins of Hope is a story of history. It’s a story of memory and it’s a story of family. The violin being played during our reception is an example of two sisters who initially were not able to get out, but finally were able to safely go to Israel and eventually be re-united with their family. It’s also about families who did not make it out.”
Asher shared a story about his father who as a young man wanted to visit family in Poland. “He was the last to see family members alive. We lost 73 members of the family. So, we have to remember.”
The 60-plus violins in Richmond were recovered and restored by Amnon Weinstein, an Israeli violin shop owner and master craftsman who lost 400 family members in the Holocaust. Avshi Weinstein, Amnon Weinstein’s son, attended the kick off events in August and described how the exhibit was built off of a collection of violins his grandfather had bought, which grew when his father began to outsource and ask people if they had instruments from the time period.
“Amnon and Avshi have brought these violins back to life,” Asher added. “Our job is to tell the stories and remember. We also must stand up to all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry.”
At the special event, Avshi Weinstein said, “Violins of Hope is about remembering. The Holocaust is about numbers that are overwhelming. But when you hear a single story like the two sisters and others, it helps us to know the individual stories. We cannot understand the Holocaust, but behind the numbers are individual families that we must remember. Each of our violins has a different story. It is a great honor and privilege to have the violins here and present their stories.”
Dr. Roger Loria, a Holocaust Survivor, also spoke at event, accompanied by his daughter, Rachel, and shared the story of his survival during the Holocaust while facing the horrors of fleeing from the Nazis. He outlived all of the family on his father’s side who have the largest mass grave of a single family in Poland, and some of his family has no markers or graves. Loria and his mother eventually made it to Switzerland from hiding in France and after the war, the six-year old lived in an orphanage with 100 children in Antwerp, Belgium. They were later taken to Israel, and when they arrived at the port of Haifa, Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” was played.
“The meaning of “Hatikvah” is hope,” he noted, “and that hope permeated us all the way to our bones for the first time.” He compared the symbol of hope in “Hatikvah” to the violins played by individuals in concentration camps and other places. “Violins of Hope” presents the stories of hope by so many.”
Sept. 26 – Weinstein JCC, “Stories and Strings, 5:30 p.m. Visit weinsteinjcc.org/events/violins-of-hope for ticket information.
Oct. 6 – Virginia Arts Festival with the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, 7:30 p.m. This event is at the Johnson Theater at Norfolk Academy.
Oct. 17 – Congregation Beth Ahabah, Richmond, 3 p.m.
Oct. 24 – Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
Visit violinsofhoperva.com for more details. Ticket information will be available soon.
A primary goal of Violins of Hope is to initiate deeper, more meaningful conversations about tolerance and social justice, along with educating people about the horrors of the Holocaust.
In addition to hosting the exhibit’s first appearance in the Mid-Atlantic region, it represents the first time that three museums have partnered with the local symphony to host the exhibit and the first time that a Black history museum has been a partner for the exhibit. No other location in the U.S. has held the exhibit for 12 weeks, giving Richmond yet another reason to claim bragging rights.
For example, The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia is planning to highlight the role of jazz music in Virginia using Violins of Hope instruments.
For more information about the exhibit, visit: www.violinsofhoperva.com.