Music, instruments of the Holocaust: survival, resistance and advocacy


Can music have an impact on social justice causes? What can you learn by playing a collection of old instruments? What stories can an instrument tell?

These questions and more will be explored by the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University in Music of the Holocaust and the Violins of Hope: Survival, Resistance and Advocacya campus only discussion and performance from 3-3:50 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, at the PNC Recital Hall, which will examine the Violins of Hope project, a poignant and moving project in Pittsburgh in October 2023.

The Violins of Hope are stringed instruments – primarily violins, but also violas and cellos – used by Jewish musicians in ghettos and Holocaust concentration camps.

“Through the preservation efforts of survivors, family members and others, the instruments eventually found their way to Israeli luthier Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom, who repaired and restored them so they could be heard again,” said Dr. Benjamin Binder. , chair of musicality and associate professor of music at Duquesne. “The Violins of Hope now travel the world in concerts, educational programs and exhibitions, raising awareness and inspiring advocacy for marginalized communities.”

Binder, who also leads the School of Music’s DEIA committee, collaborated with assistant music professor Dr. Nicole Vilkner, committee member, and Sandra Rosen, president of Violins of Hope: Pittsburgh, to create the reserved event. on campus.

“We have developed this presentation with guest speakers and a performance to educate Duquesne University students, faculty and staff about this phenomenon and the role of music during the Holocaust and how it helped marginalized communities to survive and even protest,” Binder said. “It could also be an inspiration for social justice projects among our students.”

Speakers who will be attending in person or virtually include:

  • Dr. James A. Grymes, musicologist at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and author of the book Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust – Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Humankind’s Darkest Hourwho will share his research on the historical context of the Violins of Hope and the use of music in the concentration camps.
  • Dr. Lauren Bairnsfather, Director of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, will discuss ways in which musicians and artists successfully resisted and defended communities at risk during the Holocaust.
  • Niv Ashkenazi, virtuoso and concert violinist, will talk about his experiences playing one of the Violins of Hope instruments at concerts and educational outreach programs featuring the music of composers affected by the Holocaust.

Lucas Braga, violinist in the School of Music’s Artist Diploma Program, will perform Robert Dauber Serenade for violin and pianoa piece written while the 23-year-old composer was living in the Terezin ghetto, three years before his death from typhoid in the Dachau concentration camp.

Rosen will then conclude the program by sharing a preview of the Violins of Hope: Pittsburgh events being held at Duquesne University and across Pittsburgh.

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