Violins of Hope
Violins of Hope

Violins of Hope, Courtesy: Amnon Weinstein

Mauthausen concentration camp orchestra

Mauthausen concentration camp orchestra
(Photo: SS Hauptscharführer Paul Ricken,
30 July 1942 – Digital Archive Yad Vashem)

From mid-January through mid-March 2020, Music at Kohl Mansion hosted Violins of Hope San Francisco Bay Area, (VOH SFBA) an immersive multi-week celebration of the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. Through a series of concerts, lectures, exhibitions, community conversations, and educational programs collaboratively presented by over forty diverse Bay Area organizations, MAKM showcased part of a collection of more than 80 string instruments played by Jews in the concentration camps during the Holocaust. Lovingly restored and repurposed by Israeli violin-makers Amnon and Avshalom Weinsteinthe Violins are now touring worldwide.

Thrilling World Premiere

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Music at Kohl Mansion commissioned renowned composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer to write a chamber work for mezzo-soprano, violin soloist and string quartet which was performed on instruments from the collection. It received its world premiere on the Music at Kohl stage and was repeated in a variety of community concerts, outreach events and education programs that made up the eight-week Violins of Hope SFBA project.

The world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s “Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope” was presented by Music at Kohl Mansion in January 2020.

Jake Heggie

Jake Heggie (Photo: Karen Almond)

Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer

Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer (Photo: Robert Hart)

Community Engagement

Concerts featuring Klezmer, Cajun, Turkish, Celtic and Gypsy violin music in addition to classical performances brought these violins into diverse communities across the Bay Area, encouraging conversations that celebrate our differences as we cherish the values we share. 

In these troubling times of division, Music at Kohl Mansion engaged all sectors of our community so that together, we may all better understand how our common humanity can create and sustain a global community – compassionate, hopeful and just. 


  • American Legion War Memorial Commission
  • Bay Area Rainbow Symphony
  • Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
  • Carmel Jewish Film Festival
  • Congregation Beth Am, Palo Alto
  • Congregation B’nai Shalom, Walnut Creek
  • Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco
  • Congregation Etz Chayim, Palo Alto
  • Congregation Kol Emeth, Palo Alto
  • Congregation Sinai, San Jose
  • Congregational Church of San Mateo
  • Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum
  • Facing History and Ourselves
  • Farkas Center for the Study of the Holocaust in Catholic Schools
  • Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
  • Jewish Community Center – East Bay, Berkeley
  • Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
  • Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center
  • Klez California
  • The Lark Theater, Larkspur
  • Mercy High School, Burlingame
  • Music at Kohl Mansion, Burlingame
  • Music of Remembrance, Seattle
  • Napa Center for Thought and Culture
  • New Century Chamber Orchestra
  • New Museum Los Gatos
  • Oakland Symphony Orchestra
  • Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael
  • Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, Palo Alto
  • Peninsula Jewish Community Center, Foster City
  • Peninsula Symphony Orchestra
  • San Francisco Interfaith Council
  • San Francisco Public Library
  • San Francisco State University
  • San Francisco Symphony
  • San Mateo Public Library
  • St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Albany
  • Under One Tent, Contra Costa & Tri Valley Jewish Book & Arts Festival
  • Veretski Pass, Berkeley
  • Young Chamber Musicians, Burlingame

Each violin has a unique and captivating story chronicled by author James A. Grymes in his book  “Violins of the Holocaust-Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour.”

Amnon Weinstein in his Tel Aviv workshop

Amnon Weinstein in his Tel Aviv workshop (Photo: Debra Yasinow)

Auschwitz Violin
Collection of Amnon Weinstein

The list of community and organizational partners continued to expand. For information, contact Patricia Kristof Moy, Executive Director, at or Pam Lampkin, Development Manager, at or call 650.762.1130.