Violins of Hope moves audience and leaves them with hope

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Carlos Izcaray during the Violins of Hope concert.

Saturday night, they came. They saw. They listened, and they were moved.

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Carlos Izcaray, played the violins that Jewish musicians were forced to play during the Holocaust. For nearly two hours, the orchestra played selections from Beethoven all the way to John Williams.

"It is very special for us, not just because of the direct story they tell, the people who were involved with these instruments that were restored and how they have been traveling around the world," Music director Carlos Izcaray said. "It is also an opportunity for us musicians from generations past who themselves were not able to share their art form and their message because of the tragedies they endured."

The man who restored the violins, Amnon Weinstein was in attendance. Weinstein said the experience was tremendous. He added that Saturday gave him the power to continue his work for years to come, and the fact people from all walks of life were brought together by music was unbelievable.

"If you can come to a place and see the mix of people together, you do not wish to have something more than that," Weinstein said. "This is wonderful."

Mayor Randall Woodfin spoke before the event got underway. He was taken back by the similarities between Birmingham's past and the violins and the hope they provide.

“I hear Birmingham’s future in that sound of hope," Mayor Woodfin said. "We are a city filled with promise, filled with a community spirit and of servant leadership, filled with healing forgiveness and a willingness to move forward toward a future filled with promise.”

“It was very moving," Judy Mosely said. "It reminded me of my ancestors and what they went through, friends who lost their family and what they went through, and it just brought that back to me and the hope of what’s to come.”

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