Auschwitz Violin (Image courtesy Violins of Hope)

The Violins Of Hope: A Unique Jewish Story In A Musical Southern Place

A live soundtrack of sorrow and survival

Sometimes, hope sounds like a violin.

And over the next few months, the Nashville, Tennessee community is inviting everyone to hear these truly bittersweet sounds of loss, tragedy, and ultimately hope. In Middle Tennessee, people of all faiths and backgrounds will be coming together for a series of events featuring the haunting and powerful Violins of Hope.

The Violins of Hope are a collection of restored instruments played by Jewish musicians during World War II. These remnants of the Holocaust have survived concentration camps, pogroms, persecution of their players. They have traveled so many years and miles in order to sing still today and share stories of injustice and suffering, but all the more importantly, of resilience and survival.

Spearheaded by the Nashville Symphony, the Violins of Hope will be in Nashville with the goal of not only playing beautiful music but also of encouraging dialogue about music, art, social justice and free expression—for the Nashville community, and also for all of the visitors invited to partake in the experience.

The Violins of Hope arrive in “Music City” from Israel in March. They have been restored and refurbished by Israeli luthiers Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein. The instruments have previously been the subject of a best-selling book by James A. Grymes and a critically acclaimed documentary, Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust. The Nashville Public Library exhibit represents the first time that these instruments have been exhibited to the public completely free of charge in the U.S., and the display will be accompanied by a small-scale re-creation of the Weinstein’s workshop in Tel Aviv. The official recording of Nashville’s Violins of Hope project will be at the Nashville Symphony March 22-24, followed by the opening of the exhibit connected to the project, hosted at the Nashville Public Library.

The Nashville Symphony has partnered with more than two dozen local groups and organizations on a community-wide series of events around these instruments, highlighted by an exhibition at the Nashville Public Library. The sound, presence and stories of these instruments will drive the creation of music, visual art, theater, public conversation, interfaith dialogue, readings and educational activities throughout Middle Tennessee.

We’ll feature another post with commentary from some of the musicians and coordinators of the program. For now, if you’re able to be in Nashville anytime in the coming months, we encourage you to visit the Violins of Hope website for information on all the programs being offered.

This is truly powerful Jewish story coming to the South; neighbors coming together to learn and share through these violins and all they represent—that’s also what hope sounds like.

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