Violins of Hope to highlight Long Beach Symphony’s 2019-2020 Season

Long Beach Symphony musicians will feature a “Violins of Hope” concert, with instruments once played by Jews during the Holocaust, as part of its 2019-2020 Concert Series, announced Thursday.

The string instruments that will be used for the April 25, 2020 classical concert were restored by Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom. Amnon Weinstein is the 80-year-old Israel-born founder of Violins of Hope, who started collecting the instruments and the stories behind them. The Long Beach musicians will play a repertoire meant to illustrate hope flourishing amid devastating circumstances.

The selections will include John Williams’ “Hatikvah,” the Israel national anthem; Williams’ “Theme from Schindler’s List” and Ben-Haim’s Symphony No. 1, 2nd Movement, “Psalm.”  The final will be Verdi’s “Requiem,” which was performed in 1944 by the Jewish orchestra and chorus to protest the Nazi’s SS visit at the Terezin camp.

The performance is the last Southern California stop for the Violins of Hope series. Others include an exhibition of the instruments at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust as well as the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic and the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts at Cal State Northridge.

Long Beach Symphony Director Eckart Preu, who also serves as music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, was a participant in that orchestra’s Violins of Hope experience and found it “deeply moving,” said Long Beach Symphony President Kelly Lucera. Lucera reached out to the collection owner who agreed to extend the West Coast tour by one week, allowing Long Beach to host the finale on April 25.

The Long Beach Symphony concert series opens Sept. 28 with music by György Ligeti, a Hungarian composer, who may be familiar to fans of Stanley Kubrick—he wrote the music for “2001: A Space Odyssey”—followed by Dvořák’s Violin Concerto in A minor and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

On Nov. 16, the symphony leads off with an orchestral rendition of DeBussy’s “Clair de Lune,” followed by Franz Schmidt’s “Intermezzo” from his romantic opera “Notre Dame.” The program includes Cesar Franck’s “Le Chasseur Maudit (The Accursed Huntsman),” in which he depicts a huntsman condemned to be pursued by demons for his failure to observe the Sabbath. The evening ends with “Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3,” dubbed the Organ Symphony.

February 8, 2020, the Symphony celebrates folk melodies from the United States and Mexico interpreted by 20th century composers.  The program opens and closes with works by Aaron Copland: El Salón México and Appalachian Spring orchestral suite, which is best known for its “Simple Gifts” melody, according the a statement from the symphony. The symphony will also perform works by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez and his Concerto for Harp, “Mascaras” and from Carlos Chavez, whose Symphony No. 2, “Sinfonía India” includes three melodies originating from Native American tribes of northern Mexico.

The symphony will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday March 7, when guest violinist Stefan Jackiw will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major; the only concerto he ever wrote for the instrument.

Romantic composers on May 30 explore the meaning of love, life and death in Les Preludes, Liszt. Guest pianist Claire Huangci will present Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor.

The POPS! season kicks off Oct. 26, with a performance by violinist and singer Lucia Micarelli, who is known for collaborations with Josh Groban, Chris Botti, and Jethro Tull. On Dec. 21, musicians celebrate the holiday season with The Copa Boys, followed on Feb. 22 with Mardi Gras music mixed with New Orleans jazz. A tribute to Broadway composers Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber follows on March 21 with tunes from “Gypsy,” “West Side Story,” ”Sweeney Todd,” “Evita,” “Cats,” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

The POPS! season ends on May 9 with A Night of Symphonic Rock.

Subscription options range from $129–$489 for all six Classical concerts and $93–$680 for the five-concert POPS! series. For more information or to purchase subscriptions visit www.LongBeachSymphony.org or call 562-436-3203.

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Barbara Kingsley-Wilson is a full-time lecturer at California State University, Long Beach and an adviser to the campus’s student run newspaper, the Daily 49er. A journalist with over 20 years in the field, she continues to write and spends her summers as a general assignment reporter for the Long Beach Post. When she’s not drilling her pupils on the details of AP style, she’s likely practicing her downward dog or traversing the city perched atop her mountain bike.
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