The Jacksonville Symphony will present “Violins of Hope” this weekend, a concert started by Amnon Weinstein, featuring 16 violins he recovered and restored from the Holocaust.
Weinstein, a respected violin maker, was determined to reclaim his lost heritage when he learned the death of more than 400 relatives in the holocaust. He said “you cannot escape from that” and shared stories about the instruments Wednesday on First Coast Connect.
Although most of the musicians who originally played the instruments were killed in the Holocaust, Weinstein said their voices and spirits live on through the violins. He calls these instruments the Violins of Hope.
“You know, I think this violin has one mission. ...To speak, meaning to play, and to tell the stories, and they are stories.”
Weinstein felt a connection to bring the violins back to life. He said he wants “to get each instrument that has an attachment to the holocaust, to restore them and bring them to perfect condition.”
Weinstein talked about the impact the violins had in the concentration camps. He said the Nazis exploited the talent of the musicians as a form of mind control when they arrived to the camps. He said the violins being played would “temporarily reassure them, to show people that the camp is not so bad — ‘there's music there.’
“The violin is first of all a symbol of the Jewish people. Then, of the concentration camps, because everywhere, they’ve had orchestras in the ghetto, in the camps.”
Weinstein started locating violins that were played by Jews in the camps and ghettos, piecing them back together so they could be brought to life again on the concert stage.
He said, “this is a horrible issue, but the music is making it a little bit softer.”
The event is presented in collaboration with the Anne Frank: A History for Today exhibit at the Museum of Science and History.
Tickets are available on jaxsymphony.org or by calling 904-354-5547.