Nashville Ballet performance offers prelude to Violins of Hope events

Posted on: January 31st, 2018 by tgregory

The Nashville Ballet is presenting “Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project,” which is based on the story of Holocaust survivor Naomi Warren. PHOTOGRAPH BY TONY SPIELBERG COURTESY OF BALLET AUSTIN

The Nashville Ballet will use light, music and the human body as the instruments to tell one woman’s story of survival as a prelude this month to the Violins of Hope series of Holocaust-related arts events.

“Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project” will be presented from Feb. 9-11 at TPAC’s Polk Theater. The internationally acclaimed contemporary ballet comes to Nashville from Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills. 

“We knew that this performance was going to be on the front end of an entire series of events with the Violins of Hope,” said Nashville Ballet spokeswoman Jan Morrison.  “We wanted everybody to have the opportunity to start opening their minds to the projects at the beginning.”

The Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee is collaborating with the Nashville Symphony and many other community organizations to present the Violins of Hope programs. The events are designed to encourage dialogue throughout the city about music, art, social justice and free expression. 

The Violins of Hope themselves are musical instruments that Jewish musicians played during the Holocaust. Years later, Amnon and Avshi Weinstein, father and son artisans, restored the instruments in Tel Aviv. 

Upcoming Violins of Hope events include a Nashville Symphony concert on March 22-24 at which the restored instruments will be played and an April 12 Yom Ha Shoah program to be held at the Symphony’s Schermerhorn Center.

Dance may be uniquely suited to introduce audiences to the Violins of Hope series.

“In ballet there’s never any talking,” Morrison said. “It’s the job of the dancers to use their bodies to tell the story, evoke emotion.”

“Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project” follows the story of Naomi Warren, a Holocaust survivor who recently passed away. “Some parts are fairly literal and others are symbolic,” said Morrison.

The story evolves from a hopeful, warm beginning, through the cold and dark Holocaust and finally to hope for the future, Morrison said. She calls it a “visually stunning work.”

Created and choreographed by Mills, “Light” traveled to cities all over the world since its premiere in Austin, Texas, in 2005. The ballet is set to a contemporary score by composers Philip Glass, Evelyn Glennie, Michael Gordon, Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich.

“ ‘Light’ is a timely reminder of the fragility of human rights,” Nashville Ballet Artistic Director and CEO Paul Vasterling said in a news release. 

“What’s unique about art is its ability to spark meaningful conversation, teach important lessons and leave lasting impressions that have the power to lead to change. ‘Light’ is an especially poignant example of that as we not only reflect on the past, but also consider the present and our personal responsibility when we see acts of injustice today.” •



Ballet offers programs to complement ‘Light’

As a lead-in to the performance of “Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project,” the Nashville Ballet is offering additional events as well as information on how to become more involved as a volunteer with social justice causes. 

Here are February’s events in addition to performances of the ballet:


Continuing through Feb. 28 

Living On: Portraits of Survivors and Liberators in Tennessee

Nashville Ballet Studio A (3630 Redmon Street, Nashville 37209)

9 a.m. – 6 p.m., weekdays

“Living On” presents portraits and testimonies of Holocaust survivors and U.S. Army liberators now living in Tennessee. This exhibit is made possible by the Tennessee Holocaust Commission. Free event.


Saturday, Feb. 3

The Art of Tolerance: Community Panel Discussion

Fisk University, Appleton Room in Jubilee Hall, 17th Avenue North, Nashville 37208 

3-5:30 p.m.

Join us at Fisk University for a discussion about tolerance in our community, featuring a diverse panel curated by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. A volunteering fair with information on volunteering takes place from 3-3:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion from 3:30-5 p.m. Free event; register on site.


Upcoming events for Violins of Hope

Information for this calendar is from the Violins of Hope web site, violinsofhopenashville.comCheck there for additional information.



Feb. 3 – Nashville Ballet Panel Discussion

Jubilee Hall, Fisk University

Free and open to the public


Feb. 9-11 – Light / The Holocaust and Humanity Project

Polk Theater, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

Presented by Nashville Ballet


Continuing Exhibit

Feb. 23-May 28 – Slavery, The Prison Industrial Complex

Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Photographs by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick



March 16-17 – From the Ancient Valley

Presented by Intersection

A musical program inspired by Kurdish and Persian culture


March 21: Interfaith Women’s Passover Seder

Congregation Micah

Free and open to the public


March 22-24 – Guerrero Conducts the Violins of Hope

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Featuring Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony


Continuing Exhibit

March 26-May 27 – Violins of Hope Exhibit

Main Public Library

Free and open to the public


March 27 – Interfaith Concert 

Congregation Micah

Free and open to the public


March 29 – Chamber Music of Hope

Ingram Hall, Blair School of Music

Compositions from the Holocaust


Continuing Exhibit

March 30-Oct. 7 – We Shall Overcome: Civil Rights and the Nashville Press, 1957–1968

Frist Center for the Visual Arts



April 6 – Nick Cave: Feat. Nashville

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Free large-scale performance presented by Frist Center for the Visual Arts


April 12 – Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yom HaShoah Memorial Service


April 12-14 – Bach, Mozart and Elgar

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Featuring Pinchas Zukerman and the Nashville Symphony


April 18 – Music of the Holocaust for Strings and Winds

Blair School of Music

Violist Dan Reinker with Nashville Symphony and Blair faculty musicians


April 22 – Silenced Voices

Blair School of Music

Featuring violinist Sylvia Samis performing music written in concentration camps and ghettos


April 25 – Voices of Hope: The Power of Music Part 1 – Lecture

Christ Church Cathedral

The power of vocal music as an expression of hope.


April 29 – Music and Film: Schindler’s List

Blair School of Music

Lecture and screening of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film classic.



May 2 – Voices of Hope: The Power of Music Part 2 – Concert

Christ Church Cathedral

With Portara, Nashville Children’s Choir and Nashville Concerto Orchestra


May 8 – The Return of the Violin

Nashville Public Library downtown, 7 p.m.

Film featuring violinist Joshua Bell about the return of the Stradivarius stolen from Bronislaw Huberman, founder of what became the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.


May 9 – Joshua Bell with the Nashville Symphony

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Featuring Bruch’s First Violin Concerto


May 10 – Anne Frank: A Living Voice

The Temple

Featuring Vox Grata Women’s Choir


May 15 – Anne Frank: A Living Voice

Ingram Hall, Blair School of Music

Featuring Blair Children’s Chorus and Vox Grata Women’s Choir


May 31-June 2 – Verdi’s Requiem

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Featuring the Nashville Symphony and Chorus