“Violins of Hope” explore the transformative power of music

Arts / Article

Violins of Hope” is a month-long, series of events and exhibitions of 18 violins that tell the powerful story of the Holocaust. Never before exhibited in North or South America, these violins share the history of this gruesome time through the experiences of its victims and its survivors.

Their very first public appearance in the Americas — right here in Charlotte, N.C. — provides a new perspective on this period and serves as a reminder to all generations of the consequences of intolerance. Along with the exhibition and performances, there are a number of engaging events — too many to list here.

The violins, themselves, are on display at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte “Center City Building” Gallery from April 9 to April 24. There is no charge and group tours are available April 9 through 13. Please check exhibition schedule before making plans. Use this link for tour application and guidelines as well as other guides for viewing these “Violins of Hope.”

Accompanying the “Violins of Hope” is a photographic exhibition called “BESA: A Code of Honor” of Muslim Albanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. This story told through pictures — on view now through May 16 at the Levine-Sklut Judaic Library and Resource Center — presents a beautiful, interfaith message about the power of humanity in the face of oppression. This article by writer Michael Solender is an excellent introduction to the unlikely and incredible story of Muslims protecting Jews from the Nazis.

There will be a violin-making discussion with Amnon Weinstein on Saturday, April 21. He is the Israeli violinmaker who, in 1996, began to collect and restore violins that had belonged to Jews during the Holocaust. To date, Weinstein has discovered more than 20 instruments and each violin has an extraordinary story of suffering and survival.

Levine Museum of the New South (a Knight arts grantee) is hosting several exhibitions and discussions exploring this history on a deeper level. On April 18, Assi Weinstein, daughter of Asael Bielski, recalls the stories of her father and uncles.

The following exhibitions will be up into the summer at the Levine Museum of the New South (check the website for details). “Courage and Compassion: The Legacy of the Bielski Brothers” is a unique show of family items and artifacts that tell the story of three Bielski brothers and the partisan community they established in the forests of Belarus during the Nazi occupation. The brothers ultimately saved 1,200 Jews, a history that inspired the major motion picture “Defiance.”

Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina” is another special exhibit sponsored by the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina, which explores the ways in which the Jewish community has shaped the culture and history of North Carolina for the past 400 years, and how North Carolina, in turn, has affected Jewish lives.

All That Remains“ is a panel exhibit inspired by an article that originally appeared in Charlotte Magazine. Writer Ken Garfield interviewed 10 people living in the Charlotte area who survived the Holocaust and understood the importance of telling their stories before it’s too late.

Regardless of your age, ethnicity or background, the “Violins of Hope” exhibitions, performances and events are something everyone should experience because we are all connected and the arts are an incredible source of this bond we share.

“Violins of Hope” is presented by the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture www.violinsofhopecharlotte.com Violins on view at the UNC Charlotte Center City Building, 320 E. Ninth St. in Uptown Charlotte.