For Jews enduring unimaginable evil during the Holocaust, music offered a haven and humanity. The strains of a beloved song supplied solace, even if only for a few moments. In some cases, the ability to play the violin spared Jewish musicians from grueling labors or death. They literally played for their lives: “We played for sheer survival. We made music in hell,” recalled camp musician Heinz “Coco” Schumann.
Nearly 50 years ago, Amnon Weinstein, an internationally renowned violin-maker in Tel Aviv, heard a story from a customer who brought in an instrument for restoration. The customer survived the Holocaust because his job was to play the violin while Nazi soldiers marched others to their deaths. When Weinstein opened the violin, he saw ashes inside. Remembering the 400 members of his own extended family who perished in the Holocaust, he was overwhelmed and knew he needed to seek out and restore other stringed instruments with stories like this one, but he could not bring himself to begin the project. By 1996, Weinstein was ready. He put out a call and began locating violins that were played in the camps and ghettos. Word of Weinstein's work spread. Instruments were brought to his studio, where Amnon and his son Avshalom meticulously brought each one back to life. More than 50 violins have been restored to date.
On Sunday, March 8, several of these violins will travel to Carmel for a performance and Q & A with renowned violinist Cookie Segelstein following the film, Violins of Hope. There will be a reception at 2 PM at the Carmel High School Center for the Performing Arts followed by the film and program. Tickets will go on sale in January 2020.
This program is part of the Violins of Hope San Francisco Bay Area presented in association with Music at Kohl Mansion, Burlingame, CA. For more information about Bay area programs, please click here: https://violinsofhopesfba.org/