Telling the Remarkable Stories of Violins Played by Jewish Musicians During the Holocaust: ‘Violins of Hope’ Comes to Arizona

Grammy-award winning violinist Gil Shaham will perform with the Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra, Feb. 23 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. (

Israeli violinmaker Amnon Weinstein has devoted the last 20 years to locating and restoring violins that survived the Holocaust as a tribute to those who were lost, including 400 of his own relatives. He calls these the Violins of Hope. Weinstein has restored more than 60 violins to reclaim this lost heritage, give a voice to the victims, and reinforce positive messages of hope and harmony.

Violins of Hope is a two-month event that includes exhibits, lectures, concerts and educational programs. This is one of the largest collaborations of nonprofit organizations to be implemented throughout the state. The program will be in Arizona in February–March 2019.

Many events are free or low-cost to encourage participation. Violins of Hope is a project of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. For more information and to register/purchase tickets to the events: [Read more about Violins of Hope on page 37 the FEBRUARY issue of CITYSunTimes.]


Amnon Weinstein, The Man Behind the Music, Photography Exhibit by Daniel Levin, MFA – Free Event
Feb. 3-Mar. 26 |
Arizona Jewish Historical Society, Phoenix

Exhibit Hours: Monday-Friday | 10:30am-4:30pm

  • Featuring images of Amnon Weinstein, the man behind Violins of Hope, from his workshop in Tel Aviv, Israel, as he lovingly restores and gives new voice to these stringed instruments that survived the Holocaust.
  • Photographed by Daniel Levin, a renowned portrait photographer and artist

PBS Documentary – “Violins of Hope,” narrated by Adrien Brody
Feb. 5 |Cutler Plotkin Jewish History Museum, Phoenix
Free of Charge

Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust, narrated by Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody, is a documentary featuring Israeli violinmaker Amnon Weinstein and his efforts to restore violins recovered from the Holocaust. Some were played by Jewish prisoners in concentration camps; others belonged to the Klezmer musical culture, which was all but destroyed by the Nazis.

Who Will Carry the Word
Feb. 16 | Grand Canyon University, Ethington Theater, Phoenix
7:30pm (ticketed event)

  • Theatrical performance recounting French writer Charlotte Delbo’s survival during the Holocaust. Special guest appearance by Amnon Weinstein.

From Silence to Sound: BJE Passages Lecture and Recital
Feb. 17 | Temple Chai, Phoenix
7:30pm (ticketed event)

  • Amnon and Avshi Weinstein will illuminate the story of these incredible instruments that were silenced during the Holocaust. Includes musical selections featuring the Violins of Hope.

Defiance through Art performed by the Arizona Opera – Free Event, RSVP Required
Feb. 19, 7:30pm | Heard Museum, Phoenix

  • A one-act opera by Viktor Ullmann with a libretto by Peter Kien. They collaborated on the work while interned in the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt (Terezín) around 1943. The Nazis did not allow it to be performed there.
  • Featuring an original piece, A Beautiful Place, about an art teacher in Theresienstadt who gave hope to the children there through art by Arizona-resident and composer/pianist Craig Bohmler. Bohmler has written three operas, including Riders of the Purple Sage for Arizona Opera, and nine musicals as well as 150 art songs and numerous choral works.
  • The story of the Bielski Family as told by Assiela Bielski Weinstein, daughter of Asael Bielski, who was second in command of the Bielski Partisans, will be a major part of this program.
  • Operating in Western Belorussia (Belarus) between 1942 and 1944, the Bielski partisan group was one of the most significant Jewish resistance efforts against Nazi Germany during World War II. While its members did fight against the Germans and their collaborators, the Bielski group leaders emphasized providing a haven for Jews, particularly women, children, and elderly persons who managed to flee into the forests. Under the protection of the Bielski group, more than 1,200 Jews survived the war, one of the most successful rescue efforts during the Holocaust.
  • In 2008, the inspiring story of the Bielski partisans was made into the motion picture Defiance, starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber.

American Songbook featuring the Violins of Hope
Feb. 20, 6-8 pm | Phoenix Art Museum
(Ticketed Event)

  • Concert featuring pianist Elizabeth Pridonoff and violinist Steven Moeckel playing a selection of music including Copeland, Gershwin, Bloc and Shoenfield. Special guest appearance by the Weinsteins.

Arizona Musicfest Opening Concert with Grammy-award winning violinist Gil Shaham,
Feb. 23 8pm |Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Feb. 24, 3pm | La Casa de Cristo Church, Scottsdale
(Ticketed Event)

  • Gil Shaham, Grammy award-winning violinist featured soloist
  • Maestro Robert Moody leads The Festival Orchestra featuring several of the Violins of Hope
  • The Festival Orchestra is comprised of musicians from the following distinguished institutions: New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony, National Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and many other fine ensembles of North America.
  • Pre-Concert Chat on 2/24/19 at 2pm with Amnon and Avshi Weinstein

Symphony of Songs, presented by Jewish University of Scottsdale
Feb. 25, 7pm | Congregation Beth Tefillah, Scottsdale
(Ticketed Event)

  • Rabbi Pinchas Allouche presents stories of local survivors and their songs.

Violins of Hope Exhibition – Free Event
Feb. 26-Mar.24 | Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Exhibit Hours: Sunday-Monday | 10am-5pm

  • After 70 decades of silence, these violins give voices to the horrors of the Holocaust.
  • Docent led tours and school field trips are available.

A Silenced Legacy, Arizona Musicfest Chamber Concert – Ticketed Event
Feb. 26, 7:30pm
| Temple Chai, Phoenix

  • Chamber concert featuring Festival Orchestra musicians with personal connections to the music and musicians of the Holocaust.

Bureau of Jewish Education Holocaust Educators Conference
Feb. 27, 5–9pm | Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

  • BJE will devote a day for teachers in Arizona schools to explore the Holocaust and its lessons for today and beyond. Over the years, hundreds of educators became informed and inspired to teach the Holocaust in their classrooms.

Violins of Hope: Music from the Mountains, Flagstaff
Feb. 28, 7pm | Shepard of the Hills Lutheran Church
Free, registration required: 928.527.8747

Stories and Music of Hope presented by Rosie’s House – Free Event
Mar. 3, 3pm | United Methodist Church, Phoenix

  • A community concert featuring Rosie’s House students, many of whom are from under-served communities and Title One Schools playing the Violins of Hope.
  • Downtown Chamber Society musicians will accompany the students.
  • Focus on stories of the violins and music that portray courage, perseverance, friendship and survival.
  • Featured Speaker: Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Arizona Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League

Book Signing and Lecture by James A. Grymes, author of Violins of Hope, Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour – Free Event
Mar. 5, 7pm | Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center, Scottsdale

  • Author James Grymes will be in Arizona to recount stories of the Violins of Hope and of the Israeli Violinmaker, Amnon Weinstein.

It’s Not Just Lunch: A Smile on Seniors Event
Mar. 6, noon-2pm |Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center, Scottsdale
Ticketed Event, RSVP Required

  • Author James Grymes will recount stories of the Violins of Hope.

Violins of Hope Celebrates Jewish Broadway and Film
Mar. 9, 8 pm | Temple Beth Shalom, Sun City
Ticketed Event: 623.977.3240

  • Cantor Baruch sings musical selections accompanied by a string quartet using selected Violins of Hope.

ASU Lecture Series – Free Events
ASU School of Jewish Studies partners with Violins of Hope to offer free adult lecture series:

  • March 11, 2019 7PM, Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, Phoenix: Art and the Holocaust: A roundtable discussion with ASU professors, moderated by Hava Samuelson, Dean of ASU’s School of Jewish Studies
  • March 13, 2019, 7PM, Kerr Cultural Center, Scottsdale: Lost Music of the Holocaust: Featuring ASU Music Faculty Dr. Alexandra Birch and Professor Sabine Feisst with Michelle Adler Cohen on piano.

Violins of Hope Tribute Concert Honoring Holocaust Survivors & Their Families – Ticketed Event
Mar. 19, 7:30pm| Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

  • Local survivors and their families will be recognized, featuring the Red Rocks Music String Orchestra with violinists Gil Sharon and David Ehrlich, Teresa Ehrlich, pianist and clarinetist Nikola Djurica. Special guests Lin Sue Cooney and the Weinstein family.

Creating a Connection through Music, presented by Gesher Disability Resources – Free Event w/RSVP
Mar. 20, 10am| Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

  • Lecture, recital and interactive for people with special needs. Special guests: Weinstein family

Kurt Klein: A Liberator’s Story – Free Event w/ RSVP
Mar. 20, 2pm
| Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

  • Lecture and concert honoring Kurt Klein including music selections performed with the Violins of Hope. Kurt’s daughter, Vivian Ullman, featured speaker.
  • Kurt Klein was born and raised in Waldorf, Germany. When Hitler ascended to power, Klein’s parents realized Jewish people had no future in Germany. They sent 17-year-old Kurt and their other children to safety in the United States. During the Kristallnacht attacks on German Jews, the Klein’s home was vandalized, and Kurt’s parents were deported to Eastern Europe. They ultimately perished at Auschwitz.
  • Kurt Klein was drafted in 1942 and served in the U.S. Army as an intelligence officer. In May 1945 he rescued 120 girls, all victims of Nazi concentration camps, from an abandoned factory in Volary, Czechoslovakia. One of these girls was Gerda Weissman, a famous author, speaker and Holocaust survivor, who later became his wife. Gerda resides in Phoenix.

Hope of Shanghai – Ticketed Event
Mar. 23, 8pm | Arizona Science Center Planetarium, Phoenix
Mar. 24, 6pm |Arizona Science Center Planetarium, Phoenix

  • Xiang Gao’s exclusive preview of a multi-media production based on stories of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees during the Holocaust.
  • Chinese American Xiang (Sean) Gao is one of the most successful musicians of his generation. He is the founding Artistic Director of the Master Players Concert Series & Festival at the University of Delaware (UD). Xiang is also the UD Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music who enjoys an international career as a concerto and recital soloist, chamber musician, composer, arranger, producer and promoter of classical, world and jazz music worldwide.

Echoes from Theresienstadt -Ticketed Event
Mar. 24, 2pm | Steele Indian School Park, Memorial Hall, Phoenix

  • The Arizona Opera will perform selections from Brundibar, a children’s opera originally performed by the children of Theresienstadt and the Phoenix Boys Choir will perform I Never Saw Another Butterfly, poetry set to music, with a Violins of Hope finale.
  • I Never Saw Another Butterfly is based on poems written by Jewish children imprisoned in Theresienstadt. It serves as both a dramatic reminder of the Holocaust as well as a remembrance for these children, most of whose lives were extinguished soon after their poetry was written.
  • Brundibár is a children’s opera by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, originally performed by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. Realizing the propagandistic potential of this enormously popular artistic endeavor, the Nazis arranged a special new staging of Brundibár for the propaganda film Theresienstadt and the same production was performed for the inspection of Terezín by the International Red Cross in September 1944. This would be the last of the fifty-five performances in the Terezín ghetto; two weeks later, transportation of artists to Auschwitz and other destinations East began, silencing the most popular theatrical production in Terezín.

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