19 Violins Speak For Those Who Perished In New Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage Exhibition (Oct. 2, 2015 - Jan. 3, 2016)

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Maltz Museum shares the moving stories behind instruments that survived the Holocaust

Amnon Weinstein has been restoring violins that survived the Holocaust for more than two decades. The second generation master violinmaker lost hundreds of relatives in the Holocaust and he dedicates his work to the family he never knew. The instruments in his collection have been played in concert halls around the world, giving voice to those who were silenced. “When my violins are on stage, six million people are standing behind them,” says Weinstein. This fall, they’re coming to Northeast Ohio as part of Violins of Hope Cleveland, a community-wide collaboration driven by seven cultural institutions: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Institute of Music, The Cleveland Orchestra, Facing History and Ourselves, ideastream, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage (2929 Richmond Rd., Beachwood, OH 44122; 216.593.0575; maltzmuseum.org). The stories behind 19 violins on display—18 from Weinstein’s collection and one making its American debut on loan from Yad Vashem, the World Center for Documentation, Research, Education and Commemoration of the Holocaust —will be shared in a special Maltz Museum Violins of Hope exhibition (Oct. 2, 2015 – Jan. 3, 2016).

From a violin played to accompany work details and entertain SS officers in a concentration camp to an instrument employed in a plot to blow up a Nazi soldiers club, the instruments illustrate the diversity of Jewish experiences during World War II. “Some people escaped, others suffered in ghettos and far too many were sent to death camps,” says Maltz Museum executive director Ellen Rudolph. “These violins and their stories of pain, loss and survival offer powerful connections to the past and help us comprehend the complex realities of the Holocaust.”

Designed with dramatic lighting and circular pods constructed with string to evoke the violin, the exhibition is a multisensory experience that engages the visitor through with narratives, imagery, and video. The immersive space allows visitors to reflect on the power of music—as a tool of oppression, a form of protest and a source of hope. Period-appropriate classical and Klezmer music provide a soundtrack for the exhibition, but Rudolph is most excited about the fact that students from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music will periodically fill the gallery with music played on violins from Weinstein’s collection. “Gifted young musicians will bring these instruments to life throughout the exhibition’s run,” Rudolph says. “A new generation will connect with a lost generation and ensure its voices are heard.”

From Groundworks DanceTheater’s world premiere of a work by David Shimotakahara to a concert by a Holocaust Survivor Band recently profiled by the New York Times, the Maltz Museum and approximately 20 organizations across Northeast Ohio are offering Violins of Hope programs designed to educate and inspire. Information on these lectures, performances, film screenings and other events is available at violinsofhopecle.org. Follow the hashtag #violinsCLE on social media.

Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the collaboration in Northeast Ohio, Weinstein states, “This is a very special project that is coming from the heart and has the power to touch the hearts of everyone in the world.”

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VIOLINS OF HOPE Nineteen violins that survived the Holocaust speak for those who perished. The instruments and their stories—shared through video, imagery and live performances—honor the past and give hope for the future. The 4,000-square-foot multi-sensory exhibition and related programming at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage from Oct. 2, 2015 – Jan. 3, 2016 is part of a community-wide VIOLINS OF HOPE CLEVELAND collaboration. For more information on all of the lectures, concerts, plays, films and educational opportunities taking place in the community, visit violinsofhopeCLE.org and follow #violinsCLE on social media.

  • Violins of Hope is included with Museum admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors (60+) and students, $5 youth (5-11) and FREE for Maltz Museum Members and children under 5. There is a special $5 admission for Case Western Reserve University Students throughout the run of the exhibition. Groups of 15 or more are eligible for guided tours and a discount with advance registration.
  • Exhibition/Museum hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am -5pm, Wednesday, 11am-9pm. The Museum is closed Mondays. (Note: The Museum recently changed its Saturday hours to open at 11am.)
  • Guided “drop-in” tours: Available on Tuesdays and Sundays at 2pm with regular Museum admission.

MALTZ MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE The Maltz Museum celebrates culture and identity to encourage connection and promote a greater appreciation of Jewish heritage and the diversity of the human experience. Personal stories of struggle, courage and creativity are brought to life through interactive exhibitions and thought-provoking programs. For more information, visit maltzmuseum.org and follow us on Twitter @maltzmuseum and @stopthehateUS.

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