The “Violins of Hope” have arrived in Charlotte for a series of premiere exhibitions and performances about the instruments recovered from the Holocaust.
In North America for the first time, “Violins of Hope” is a collection of 18 violins restored by Israeli master violinmaker Amnon Weinstein. The instruments are in Charlotte in part through financial support from Wells Fargo Private Bank, the exclusive corporate partner.
UNC Charlotte’s David Russell, the Anne R. Belk Distinguished Professor of Music, is a close family friend of Weinstein. According to Ken Lambla, dean of the College of Arts + Architecture, “The trust and affection between these two men is the seed from which a remarkable project has grown, allowing UNC Charlotte to bring to this hemisphere instruments that offer rare insight into how music offers inspiration to the human spirit and substance to our relationships with others. Each violin appears fragile, almost lonely, and yet each one carries with it the strength of memory.”
In 1996, Weinstein began to collect and carefully restore violins that had extraordinary histories. Each violin is an artifact from the Holocaust. Some were played by Jewish prisoners in Nazi concentration camps; others belonged to the Jewish Klezmer musical culture, which was all but destroyed in the Holocaust.
First played publicly in 2008 in Jerusalem and then exhibited and played in 2010 in Sion, Switzerland, the 18 “Violins of Hope” have never before been exhibited or played together in North America. Their American debut in Charlotte, and the rich programming inspired by their arrival, is expected to garner national attention for the University and the Charlotte region.
In collaboration with numerous arts and educational partners, the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture will present a series of performances, exhibitions, film screenings and educational programs that explore the history of music and the arts in the face of oppression.
“The College of Arts + Architecture is delighted to be working with so many cultural and academic partners,” said Dean Lambla. “The ‘Violins of Hope’ project demonstrates our commitment to engage with a broad array of institutions in Charlotte that educate and collaborate to make this community a better place to live.”
Madelyn Caple, regional managing director for corporate sponsor Wells Fargo Private Bank, stated, “Wells Fargo Private Bank is dedicated to serving the community we’re in. Through our sponsorship of ‘Violins of Hope,’ we are pleased to support both local education and art.”
“Violins of Hope” will be displayed in the College of Arts + Architecture Gallery at UNC Charlotte Center City from April 16-24, 2012. Performances featuring the violins begin April 12 with a concert celebrating the people of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, who saved some 5,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
The project’s final concert will take place in Belk Theater of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center April 21. The Charlotte Symphony, conducted by music director Christopher Warren-Green, will perform, along with violinist Shlomo Mintz and other special guests.
The Levine Museum of the New South opened the exhibit “Courage and Compassion: The Legacy of the Bielski Brothers” on Saturday, Feb. 25. The display is part of the College of Arts + Architecture’s “Violins of Hope” programming.
“Courage and Compassion” documents the efforts of the Bielski brothers, Jewish resistance fighters who saved more than 1,200 Jews in the forests of Byelorussia. Assaela Weinstein, the wife of violinmaker Amnon Weinstein, is the daughter of partisan Assael Bielski. Assaela Weinstein and her cousin Ruth, daughter of Tuvia Bielski, will lead a panel discussion about their family’s history at the museum on April 18.
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