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The Evanston Symphony Orchestra May 14 Concert and May 12 “Musical Insights” Feature Violins of Hope Instruments

The Evanston Symphony Orchestra May 14 Concert and May 12 “Musical Insights” Feature Violins of Hope Instruments

Evanston, Ill.—When the Evanston Symphony Orchestra plays Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, and Mussorgsky at its May 14 concert, six members will be bowing string instruments played by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust, as the ESO participates in the Violins of Hope program. The instruments, four violins, a viola and a cello, will also be on display with details of their histories during this concert’s “Musical Insights” preview May 12. “Musical Insights” is sponsored by The Merion, Evanston’s signature senior living experience.

The May 14 concert, which begins at 2:30 at Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston, will conclude the ESO’s 2022-2023 subscription season. Music Director Lawrence Eckerling will lead the symphony as it performs Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s passionate Violin Concerto with soloist Maya Anjali Buchanan making her long anticipated ESO debut. Also on the program are Modest Mussorgsky’s evocative Pictures at an Exhibition in the famous orchestration by Maurice Ravel and Hector Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture.

The Violins of Hope program in the Chicago area is hosted by Jewish Community Centers of Chicago (JCC Chicago) and partner organizations including the ESO from April through September 2023. The collection of 70 string instruments played by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust have been painstakingly restored and are now coming to our area for cultural exhibitions, performances, and community education with a message of hope, resistance, resilience, and unity.

“I was enlightened when I first learned about Violins of Hope,” said Maestro Eckerling. “Upon reading information from their website, this statement resonated with me, and so I’m sharing it here: ‘Our violins present the victory of the human spirit over evil and hatred. As many as 6,000,000 Jews were murdered in World War II, but their memory is not forgotten. It comes back to life with every concert and every act of love and celebration of the human spirit. Violins of Hope is not only a memorial to lost culture and people, it is also an educational act that reaches young students and adults wherever our concerts are performed.’”

ESO Board Pres. Margaret Gergen said, “The pieces presented in this concert are all inspiring and evocative, each in their own way. The message surrounding the violins of hope will add another layer of depth and significance to make this music soar.”

During the special “Musical Insights” program May 12, Maestro Eckerling and Anjali Buchanan will preview the program, with her playing selections from the Tchaikovsky concerto, as well as some other surprises. The six Violins of Hope instruments that will be played by orchestra members May 14 can be examined by attendees and the details of each instrument’s provenance will be explained with the help of a docent from Violins of Hope. “Musical Insights” begins at 1:30 in the Crystal Ballroom at the Merion, 1611 Chicago Ave, Evanston. The program is free and open to the public, but please RSVP at 847-570-7815.

For the comfort and safety of the audience, the orchestra, and staff, the ESO recommends that masks be properly worn at both The Merion and Pick-Staiger. Proof of vaccination is not currently required,

Information on tickets for the May 14 concert and further details about “Musical Insights” are available at the Symphony’s website ESO ( or by calling 847-864-8804. Donations to the ESO can also be made through the website and by phone.

Founded in 1945, the Evanston Symphony is the 2017 Illinois Council of Orchestras’ “Orchestra of the Year” and in 2019, was honored by the Council for “Community Relations of the Year” for its significant outreach to the Evanston community. The ESO mission is to provide community members of all ages with convenient, affordable opportunities to perform and hear fine classical music from locally, nationally and internationally renowned artists.