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Violins of Hope Presentation Brings to Life Voices, Music Once Silenced by the Holocaust

July 25, 2019 By Webb Alumni Office

Earlier this year, Webb School students and faculty had the unique opportunity to experience the sounds and stories of some of the restored violins that were once played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, as part of the famed “Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust” project.

Spearheaded by the Stanford Eisenberg Knoxville Jewish Day School in partnership with community organizations, including the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO), “Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust” came to Knoxville for the month of January. Violins of Hope’s 50-plus restored violins have survived concentration camps, ghettos, pogroms, and many long journeys to tell remarkable stories of injustice, suffering and survival; yet are also testaments of beauty and resilience, even in the worst conditions.

Avshi Weinstein, a Violins of Hope co-founder and educator, and KSO members Audrey Pride and Zofia Glashauser provided a powerful and moving presentation in Webb’s Bishop Center – bringing the stories of some of the violins and the musicians who played them to life and underscoring themes
of tolerance and hope.

Violins of Hope’s collection of violins was assembled and restored by Israeli master violin maker and restorer, Amnon Weinstein, father of Avshi Weinstein. Nearly 50 years ago, Amnon heard an impactful story from a Holocaust survivor who brought him a violin for restoration. The man, like many captive violinists in the concentration camps, had been forced to perform as Nazi soldiers marched others to their deaths. When Amnon opened the violin’s case, he saw ashes and thought of his own relatives who had perished. He put a call out for violins from the Holocaust that he would restore in hopes that the instruments would sound again and give a voice to those who had suffered and fallen.

“I think the most important part of this project is education, especially for schools and the younger generation,” said Amnon Weinstein in a news release. “When you are speaking through music, through these violins that have been in the camps and ghettos, it’s easier for the younger generation to open their ears and hopefully understand better. The message for all is simple. Never again, never again.”

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