Music From a Dark Past—Hope for Today and Tomorrow
The lilt of beautiful music stirs hope in the hearts of listeners. But like any great gift it can be perverted for evil. The Violins of Hope experience tells the story and brings it full circle through the darkest of times and circumstances to hope again. Sheri Kimble, a volunteer docent, explains:
During the Nazi years, many Jewish and other musicians were forced to play their music at first for the entertainment of the Nazi officials, but then for the prisoners being marched off to the labor sites from the camps, and ultimately for the new arrivals at the death camps who were herded into the "showers." Even though they knew the outcome, the musicians had no choice but to play or they too would die. Sometimes they would receive an extra scrap of food for their playing. Having that could give them—and others with whom they shared—strength and hope to stay alive another day.
When the light began to return, the now freed musicians no longer had the heart to play. Their violins languished in dark attics and closets. Eventually, one—and then one by one—others were given to or collected by an Israeli luthier, Amnon Weinstein. His father, Moshe, had also been a maker and repairer of stringed instruments, which had brought him to Palestine before the outbreak of war. Unfortunately, 400 of his and his wife's families were destroyed in the Holocaust. In 2000 Amnon turned his skills toward restoring the violins and finding ways to tell their stories—so that the remembering will help humanity say, "Never again!"
The Violins of Hope experience travels internationally, but includes extended time in communities that are willing to turn the "visit" into a community-wide discussion and learning opportunity. Previous stops have been in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, and in Birmingham, Alabama. Through Memorial Day, May 28, 2018, Violins of Hope is in Nashville, Tennessee. Forty different exhibits and events—all but two are free—invite people into the story, into the music, into awareness, into hope. Major ones include concerts by the Nashville Symphony playing the violins and the Nashville Public Library's multifaceted exhibits.
Sheri answered a call to be a volunteer docent for the Library's exhibit. At first, in training, she felt overwhelmed by the intensity and responsibility of the story. Now, she is gratified to be able to help people of all ages understand, appreciate, and claim the message.
To provide a 40-venue experience for a community for free requires volunteers, including those who raise the possibility within their home area, others like Sheri who raise awareness through their channels or on site, and others who raise needed funds. Volunteers make a difference. Volunteers for hope.
For more information, visit the website violinsofhopensh.org. May 28, 2018, is the final day for Nashville.