Violins of Hope to visit University Park with a concert and film
The Penn State School of Music will partner with Violins of Hope of Greater Pittsburgh to present two special events on Nov. 1 and 16.
The first, a screening of the film Stories from Violins of Hope, followed by a virtual Q&A with the production team, will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1, in the Recital Hall. Stories from the Violins of Hope is an inspiring 55-minute filmed performance infused with symphonic music that tells the stories behind the famed collection of Holocaust violins, and how one family brought them back to life — and to the world. Visit www.the-braid.org for additional information. Admission is free.
The second part of the partnership will be a concert featuring music of reflection, contrition, hope, and unity performed by the Penn State Chamber Orchestra and Concert Choir at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Recital Hall. Penn State violinists will have the honor of playing these beautifully restored instruments, which serve as a reminder of the musicians who played them during the Holocaust.
Amnon Weinstein, the violin maker largely responsible for restoring the instruments, said, “Every performance with the Violins of Hope is a monument to a boy, a girl, a man, a woman who cannot speak anymore. It reminds us that as long as the song of a violin can be heard, there is reason to have hope.”
The program will open with Studie for string orchestra by Pavel Haas. Haas composed Studie while imprisoned at Theresienstadt concentration camp. Studie will be followed by Elegy for string orchestra by Samuel Jones. The chamber orchestra will conclude their program with “Adagietto,” from Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler, who, like Pavel Haas, was Jewish and from what is today the Czech Republic. The “Adagietto,” composed as a declaration of love to his future wife, Alma, functions as a point of calm repose in the larger symphony and serves a similar role in this program.
The Concert Choir will first sing En Kelohenu by Pennsylvania composer Steven Sametz. En Kelohenu is scored for two unaccompanied choral ensembles and is a lush setting of the Hebrew congregational prayer.
The Chamber Orchestra and Concert Choir will collaborate for the final two selections. Tarik O’Regan’s Triptych is a three-movement work based on texts that present different perspectives on death and remembrance. The outer movements are intensely rhythmic, while the middle movement is more lyrical and ethereal.
The concert will conclude with “Dona Nobis Pacem” from Bach’s Mass in B minor. The text translates to “Grant us peace.”
General admission tickets for the concert should be purchased in advance.