Narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody, Violins of Hope – Strings of the Holocaust, follows the journey of Israeli master violinmaker Amnon Weinstein and his efforts to restore violins from the Holocaust. The collection of violins represents an incredible history of suffering, courage and resiliency. They belonged to starving Jewish refugees who carried them during the death marches in World War II Europe, to concentration camp victims who were forced to play during the execution of tens of thousands of innocent people, to desperate inhabitants of the ghettos where children often played for crumbs, and to those in the work camps where millions died a slow death from starvation and disease.
Their amazing stories are blended into Weinstein’s mission to not only collect and restore the violins, but to send them back out into the world where they are played by renowned musicians and orchestras around the world. The program chronicles the journey of the instruments from Weinstein’s small workshop in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he has worked for two decades to repair the violins to Cleveland, where they were brought in 2015.
Guest speaker Michael Leibson, docent at Michigan Holocaust Center will lead a discussion following the movie.
Violinist, violist, conductor and professor Dr. Eric Lawson has had a varied career in performance and education. Past performances as a conductor, soloist and lecturer have taken him to Austria, Brazil, China, Germany, Romania and Scandinavia. Before returning to his home state of Michigan, he was based in North Dakota where, in addition to serving as a violin instructor at Bismarck State College, Jamestown College, and the University of Mary, he was also concertmaster of the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra and established the Bismarck-Mandan Youth Symphony. Other former academic appointments have included Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Central College in Pella, Iowa and the University of North Dakota where he founded the string program and the UND Chamber Orchestra.
Here in Michigan, Dr. Lawson as been very active with the Alpena Symphony Orchestra as its concertmaster, conductor and president of the board. He also performs with many other orchestras in Northern Michigan and participates in the Traverse Symphony as a first violinist, in the Gaylord Symphony as concertmaster and as assistant concertmaster in the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra.
And finally, in what has been one of the most important experiences of his life outside of music, he also served almost four years as an Alpena County Commissioner, representing Ossineke and Sanborn Townships. In addition to serving as chair of the Salary and Personnel Committee, he also served on the Airport, Ambulance, District Court, Circuit Court Management and Jail Committees. He also represented Alpena County in Gaylord with the Northern Michigan Regional Entity Substance Use Disorder Board and continues to serve on the Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Board. Dr. Lawson resides in Ossineke with his wife and two children.