Voices from the Violins of Hope
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.
Special to the occasion will be the appearance of Israeli father and son luthiers, Amnon and Avshalom (Avshi) Weinstein, second and third generation violin makers as well as the co-founders of the Violins of Hope initiative. What began as a modest effort with one or two violins in their Tel Aviv atelier in 1996, the collection has grown to 86 instruments that have toured concert halls, congregations and exhibition centers in Europe and the United States. Both father and son will be presented in public forums speaking about their expert work at restoring each violin while reflecting on the provenance of these instruments, and the impact these strings as symbols of hope have had on communities worldwide.
“It will be the first time the Violins of Hope collection will be on the West Coast of America, and we very much look forward to this important occasion,” shared Avshalom in anticipation of the San Francisco Bay Area residency. “Each city we have visited has found new aspects and ways to showcase these instruments. In Europe, the memory is a bit stronger, as they lived it. Almost every family there was involved in the war in some way, but the generations are changing. The most important aspect is to make sure we don’t forget, so that hopefully, we won’t make the same mistakes again.”
James A. Grymes, noted University of North Carolina musicologist and author of the award-
winning Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust – Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour, also joins the Weinsteins for public speaking engagements at the San Mateo Public Library, the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco, and various private and public Bay Area schools. Joining them are violinists Hannah Tarley and Rebecca Jackson who will offer a performance on select instruments from the collection.
“It is a great privilege for Music at Kohl Mansion to present the iconic Violins of Hope, a breathtaking and powerful collection of recovered and restored string instruments of the Holocaust,” said Executive Director Patricia Kristof Moy. “It is our hope that with this eight-week residency of over forty participating organizations, the violins will not only remind us of the shameful way they were used in the past, but will also speak anew, serving as life-affirming symbols, fostering important discussions on peace and human dignity, and ultimately creating a musical bridge of grace and compassion throughout our diverse Bay Area.”
Violins of Hope SFBA recognizes the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz which will be commemorated on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Monday, January 27, at San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El.
Violins of Hope San Francisco Bay Area residency debuts from January 16-March 15, 2020. For more information including concert schedules, and special events, please visit www.violinsofhopesfba.org.
KATRINA ROZELLE BIDS FAREWELL. “Since 1987, Katrina and her crew have sweetened Bay Area celebrations to the tune of thousands of wedding cakes, from simple and grand; tens of thousands of birthday and party cakes of every conceivable size and shape; and literally millions of deliciously addictive cookies, not to mention her wonderful holiday products,” shares Katrina Rozelle Pastries and Desserts on its website and its front door of the last location in Alamo. After 33 years, Katrina is retiring. She set a new standard with her creative and award-winning works of art. The Oakland location closed on December 31 and the Alamo location will close January 31. “There’s no easy way to say goodbye, but Katrina and crew would love to see you before the doors close. Stop by and help us bid farewell to a one-of-a-kind Bay Area institution.” Katrina Rozelle is located at 215 B Alamo Plaza in Alamo. Call 925-837-6337 or visit katrinarozelle.com.
WEEKEND SCENE. Johnny A.Thursday, Dru Hill Friday-Sunday at Yoshi’s Jack London Square Oakland, yoshis.com… Berkeley Songwriter’s Competition Thursday, RICO Fridays Friday, Peter Tosh Salute with special guests Saturday, Soul Sanctuary Dance, Creole/Cajun Jam Sunday at Ashkenaz Berkeley, www.ashkenaz.com… Jim Cordiss Friday, Saturday at Zio Fraedo’s Pleasant Hill, www.ziofraedos.com… Kerwin Claiborne Friday-Saturday, Felipe Esparza Sunday at Tommy T’s Comedy Club Pleasanton, tommyts.com … Orfeh and Andy Karl Friday-Sunday, Loving Janis Sunday at Feinstein’s at the Nikko San Francisco, feinsteinssf.com.
TAHOE SPOTLIGHT. Harrah’s Lake Tahoe recently announced a rescheduled date for East Bay native
and acclaimed percussionist Sheila E. who will appear March 28, not January 25, as previously announced in the legendary South Shore Room. “I'm honored to be performing as well as serving as the musical director for Let's Go Crazy: Recording Academy / GRAMMYs Salute to Prince, posted Sheila E. last week on social media. “We've put together some AMAZING talent that you won't want to miss. This is so special to me. The event will be held at Los Angeles Convention Center on January 28th.” The Grammy’s will air on CBS and the tribute will feature a number of artists including Alicia Keys, John Legend, and Chris Martin. Next up in the South Shore Room are Tainted Love Saturday, Sawyer Brown February 1, and the Dark Star Orchestra February 16. For tickets and more information, call 800-427-7247 or visit www.harrahstahoe.com.
Frosene will be back with you again Thursday, January 30th.
FEATURED PHOTO COURTESY COLLECTION OF AMNON WEINSTEIN