The sound of hope

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 9, 2012

David Russell, the Anne R. Belk distinguished professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, played one of the Violins of Hope Saturday night in Salisbury at Catawba College’s Omwake-Dearborn Chapel. The violin Russell played once belonged to a Jewish prisoner at the Nazi Germany concentration camp of Auschwitz. The man was part of the men’s orchestra at the camp. Many of the musicians survived the death camps, thanks to their playing ability as the Nazis insidiously used the orchestras to allay fears of their Jewish captives. This month, 18 Violins of Hope — violins from the Holocaust that were recovered and restored by master luthier Amnon Weinstein — are being exhibited and played in the Charlotte region, thanks to a program put together by the College of Arts & Architecture at UNCC. The Salisbury Symphony Guild arranged for the appearance of Russell, Weinstein and the one violin Saturday night, and a crowd of roughly 500 people attended the event. It is the first appearance of the Violins of Hope in North America.