San Francisco Classical Voice: These Violins Speak of Heartbreak and Hope

January 21, 2020

photo: Matthew Washburn

The instruments in the personal collection of Amnon Weinstein can not only make music, but are also works of art in and of themselves. Like many artworks, these instruments have endured well beyond any single human lifetime to express the full spectrum between hope and horror that humanity can dish out.

Weinstein is a second-generation Israeli master violinmaker who amasses and restores string instruments that had been owned by Jews both before and during World War II. His instruments represent the immeasurable death and loss inflicted by the Holocaust. But when played upon still today, they also embody survival, remembrance, and the possibility of hope.

Click to read the full article about Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope, San Francisco Classical Voice

San Francisco Chronicle Datebook: Review: Holocaust-era instruments sing their own stories in vibrant song cycle

January 20, 2020

photo: Matthew Washburn

For most concerts, the musical instruments are simply servants of the process — humble, anonymous vehicles through which the process of communication among composer, performers and listeners takes place.

But on Sunday, Jan. 19, at a powerful event in the intimate confines of Burlingame’s Kohl Mansion, an unusual assemblage of stringed instruments claimed center stage, becoming simultaneously the heroes and the tellers of their own bloodstained tales.

Click to read the full article about Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope, San Francisco Chronicle Datebook



Arts SF: Holocaust Violins Evoke Moving Premiere

January 19, 2020

photo: Arts SF

BURLINGAME, CA—Historic violins spoke to us in song and left many in tears.

A world premiere inspired by violins rescued from the Holocaust is as eloquent as it is disheartening. For the “Violins of Hope” instruments retrieved from the Nazis’ sites of their death-camp terror 75 years ago, librettist Gene Sheer and composer Jake Heggie have created a deeply moving song cycle with vivid imagery, in which the voices speaking to us were more from the surviving violins themselves than of the decimated society. Their songs, accompanied by players using those very historic instruments, lead us into that macabre wartime world where, in many cases, eloquence as a practicing musician was the only way for prisoners to avoid execution. Violins were literally life-savers.

Click to read the full article about Intonations, Songs from the Violins of Hope, Arts SF

Frosene on the Scene: Voices from the Violins of Hope

January 16, 2020

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photo: Amnon Weinstein/Music at Kohl Mansion

Today, January 16, marks the opening of the eight-week residency of a priceless collection of fifty recovered and meticulously restored Holocaust-Era violins.Violins of Hope, in its West Coast debut, features instruments that were once played by prisoner-musicians in the ghettos as well as labor/death camps and coincides with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, one of the many death sites where Jewish musicians were forcibly directed to perform in camp orchestras, small ensembles or individually while bearing witness to unspeakable atrocities.

Produced by Music at Kohl Mansion, one of the Bay Area’s leading presenters of international chamber music programs, Violins of Hope San Francisco Bay Area represents the efforts of forty-two organizations who are offering symphonic, chamber and klezmer concerts, exhibitions, lectures, films, interfaith dialogues, ecumenical services, workshops, and community forums through March 15.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, Frosene on the Scene

Napa Valley Register: ‘Along the Trade Route’: Napa participates in Violins of Hope Holocaust remembrance

January 15, 2020

From Jan. 16 to March 15, a priceless collection of 50 string instruments once played by Jewish prisoner-musicians from the camps and ghettos of the Holocaust will be showcased in different formats by 42 Bay Area organizations.

This series of concerts, exhibitions, films, public forums and civic events will take place under the rubric, “Violins of Hope,” commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and international Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Napa Center for Thought & Culture (NCTC) is participating in this multi-faceted collaboration with one musical performance of “Along the Trade Route,” taking place Sunday, Jan. 26, at 2 p.m. at Jarvis Conservatory, 1711 Main St., Napa. Information and tickets can be found at Eventbrite.com.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, Napa Valley Register



The Mercury News: ‘Violins of Hope’: Concerts slated across Bay Area

January 14, 2020

If the Violins of Hope project looks back to one of history’s darkest chapters, it also speaks to the resilience of the human spirit — and the need to always remember.

Drawn from a priceless collection of 86 recovered Holocaust-era stringed instruments, the touring group of  50 restored violins makes its West Coast debut this month for an eight-week Bay Area residency. With a number of events featuring the violins in performances, a full schedule of concerts, recitals, and chamber music runs Jan. 16-March 15.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, The Mercury News


photo: Karl Mondon

Bay Area News Group: Violins of Hope brings Holocaust-era strings to Bay Area

January 14, 2020

Inside San Francisco’s War Memorial Veterans Building, a group of carefully chosen Bay Area musicians gingerly draw their bows across the strings of 49 historic violins, a viola and a cello. Some of the instruments bear shiny Stars of David; others, nicks and scratches from the concentration camps of Auschwitz.

“This is bringing up a lot of emotions,” says Cookie Segelstein, a celebrated Berkeley violinist who will play one of the restored Holocaust-era strings during Violins of Hope, a series of concerts, exhibitions, and other events that begins Jan. 16 across eight Bay Area counties. “My parents were Holocaust survivors. (Years later) I grew up as the fiddler who played for them while they wept.”

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, The Mercury News


The San Francisco Classical Voice: “Violins of Hope” Concerts and Lectures Bring Tales of the Holocaust to California

January 13, 2020

At 80 years old, Amnon Weinstein, a second-generation luthier — a builder of stringed instruments — is still plying his trade. He and his son, Avshalom or Avshi, have been collecting and restoring violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. While many of the instruments’ owners perished in one of the worst periods in human history, the music — and the stories these instruments tell — live on in Violins of Hope, a traveling project dedicated to the Weinsteins’ collection of more than 80 restored violins originally owned and played by European Jews in ghettos and Nazi death camps.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, San Francisco Classical Voice


photo: Amnon Weinstein

San Francisco Examiner: Holocaust-era instruments tell untold stories

January 12, 2020

When millions of voices tragically were silenced during the Holocaust, millions of stories were left untold. Yet many voices and stories will come to light in the next eight weeks in the Bay Area in “Violins of Hope,” the West Coast debut of 50 Holocaust-era string instruments in dozens of performances, exhibitions, discussions, film screenings and ecumenical services across the region. Partnering with more than 40 Northern California arts and cultural organizations, Music at Kohl Mansion, a chamber music presenter in Burlingame for 37 years, hosts the programming, which begins Thursday and runs through March 16.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope,  San Francisco Examiner


Photo: Amnon Weinstein

The Mercury News: The Violins of Hope

January 10, 2020

As one of the “Violins of Hope” Bay Area partners, New Museum Los Gatos will present “In the Artist’s Studio: The Violin Workshop of Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein.” The exhibition runs Jan. 24-April 26.

“The Violins of Hope” is a rare assemblage of string instruments played by European Jews before, during and after the Holocaust. Fully restored by the Weinsteins, father and son Israeli luthiers. The NUMU exhibition presents a virtual experience of their Tel Aviv violin workshop Weinstein where the violins are restored. It will share the story of the Weinstein family and the inspiration behind the project, and highlight one of the 70 historic instruments in the collection.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, The Mercury News


Violin back with MOP inlay star

The J Weekly: ‘Violins of Hope’ escaped the Holocaust and are coming to Bay Area for events of music and memory

January 10, 2020

Why do so many Jews play the violin? Because, according to one old explanation, when the time came to flee, you could always run with a violin.

Indeed, some Jewish fiddlers fleeing persecution in Europe and the Russian Empire managed to escape. But multitudes were caught, especially during the Holocaust.

That’s the tragic yet ultimately inspiring origin of Violins of Hope, a collection of stringed instruments that survived the Shoah, though their former owners did not.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, The J Weekly


hoto: Stephanie Girard

Bay Area Reporter: Beethoven, Violins of Hope kick off year

January 9, 2020

Music at Kohl Mansion’s presentation of “Violins of Hope San Francisco Bay Area” includes public performances, exhibitions, forums, films and events Jan. 16-March 15, coinciding significantly Jan. 27 with International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau to honor the victims of Nazism. In 2020, the need to confront and remember the past remains incontrovertible.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, Bay Area Reporter


Photo: Scott Strazzante

San Francisco Chronicle: These musical instruments survived the Holocaust. Now they honor the musicians who did not.

January 5, 2020

The violin had been in Auschwitz, and unlike so many human beings, it survived.

One of the prisoners, his name now unknown, had been assigned the task of playing music while the other inmates were marched to the gas chamber. Once the camp was liberated, he immediately unburdened himself of the instrument. Years later, in the 1980s, the man he sold it to brought it to the atelier of the violin maker and restorer Amnon Weinstein in Tel Aviv.

Click to read article about the violins, San Francisco Chronicle

San Mateo Daily Journal: Violins of Hope keep Holocaust memories alive

January 4, 2020

The Violins of Hope are a collection of some 85 musical instruments that survived the Nazi Holocaust. Their Jewish owners were variously victims, survivors or refugees. Some of the instruments were played in concentration camps. They have all come in to the collection of Amnon Weinstein, an Israeli luthier who has restored them to playing condition and sent them out on tours, to be displayed in museums and to be played by local performers in concerts.

Click to read article about the Violins of Hope, San Mateo Daily Journal


Modern Luxury Silicon Valley Magazine’s January/February issue

January 2020

As a month symbolic of new beginnings, January-the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-fittingly marks the opening of Violins of Hope, an exhibition at the War Memorial Veterans Building in San Francisco of 50 restored violins played by Jewish musicians for their captors in concentration caps during World War II.

Click to read article about the violins, Modern Luxury Silicon Valley Magazine

San Francisco Opera Magazine announces Sasha Cooke starring in “Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope”

November 8, 2019

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, currently in the title role (along with Heidi Stober) in San Francisco Opera’s Hansel and Gretel, will have a strong Bay Area presence for the first six months in 2020. In addition to bringing her critically acclaimed interpretation of Laurene Powell Jobs in the Mason Bates opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and as Artist in Residence with the San Francisco Symphony, the American artist will be at the center of a dramatic new work by Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer drawn from the Holocaust.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope (page 15)


Photo: Art & Clarity

San Francisco Classical Voice Interviews Composer Jake Heggie

July 19, 2019

“You’re working on three other projects right now. Can you talk about them?”

Jake Heggie: “One is for the 72 Violins of Hope. They are violins that were played by Jews in concentration camps that were restored by a man in Israel over a period of 40 years. The first one that he opened to restore, which was given to him by the family of someone who died in Auschwitz, was full of ashes.

These violins have tremendous stories to tell about the journeys they’ve been through. They’re making their first West Coast visit, and they’ve never had a piece written for or about them to tell their stories. I was commissioned to write one for a quartet of the instruments, with the first performance scheduled for Kohl Mansion in Burlingame at the end of January — the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz — and several more to follow in the Bay Area. Sasha Cooke is the mezzo, Daniel Hope is the solo violinist.”

Click to read article about Jake Heggie, San Francisco Classical Voice

Photo: Stephanie Girard

San Francisco Classical Voice Spotlights Mezzo Soprano Sasha Cooke

May 25, 2019

Texas Rose in Full Bloom: Mezzo-Soprano Sasha Cooke

Upcoming projects include a dramatic new song cycle, Intonations, by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. Written as part of the Violins for Hope project, it uses violins played by victims of the holocaust that have been restored by the father-son luthiers Ammon and Avshalom Weinstein. The cycle will be performed at Kohl Mansion in Burlingame in 2020, continuing a connection with the Bay Area which began in the singer’s childhood, when she spent extended periods here, traveling from her home in Texas to visit her grandparents.

Click to read the full article about Sasha Cooke, San Francisco Classical Voice


Photo: Amnon Weinstein

The J Weekly: ‘Violins of Hope’ concerts and events coming to Bay Area in 2020

November 20, 2017

The Violins of Hope, a collection of more than 60 string instruments rescued from the Holocaust, will be featured as part of a community-wide initiative in 2020 that will be produced by Music at Kohl Mansion.

The series of concerts and community events planned for January-February 2020 will honor the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Click to read the full article about the Violins of Hope, The J Weekly



James Grymes Live Interview on ABC 7 News, January 22, 2020

PBS News Hour feature

Violins of Hope – Holocaust violins play again

Violins of Hope visit a Florida school

Avshalom Weinstein speaks at the 2017 AIPAC Conference

Trailer for Itzhak film in Weinstein Studio

Violins of Hope visit Nashville in 2018



KALW FM Public Radio Interview of Intonations composer Jake Heggie and violinist Dawn Harms, January 15, 2020


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