8th Annual Summer Arts Institute

8th Annual Summer Arts InstituteFeaturing The Violins of Hope

On July 25 and 26, 2019, The Soraya welcomed 50 K-12 educators to the 8th Annual Summer Arts Institute, featuring the center’s most ambitious arts education project, the Violins of Hope. Led by The Soraya’s Director of Arts Education Dr. Anthony Cantrell and Facing History’s Mary Hendra, the professional development provided two groups of educators (grades 3-5 and 6-12) with resources to enhance the study of the Holocaust, WWII, Jewish culture, and genocide. In addition, the program taught ways to integrate the arts and difficult subject matter into the educator's curriculum, which concluded with an exclusive Violins of Hope demonstration by The Soraya’s first Artist in Residence, Niv Ashkenazi. 

Through activities conducted by Hendra, she led the attendees' breakout sessions that were used to inspire creative approaches educators can take while constructing their curriculum. By using an image of a whirlpool, participants first explored the broad topics of identity and community, funneling towards the middle with more specific topics such as WWII, eventually reaching Violins of Hope at the center. Another session exhibited the photography of pre-WWII Jewish communities in hopes of expanding cultural perception beyond the Holocaust. These activities, along with 8 others, concluded with an excerpt recited by Dr. Cantrell from Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust – Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind's Darkest Hour about Motele Schlein, a 12-year-old partisan who blew up a Nazi Soldiers Club using explosives he had smuggled inside the club in his violin case. Accompanying Dr. Cantrell on violin, Ashkenazi performed on one of the Violins of Hope instruments with a unique arrangement of The Chassid by Julius Chajes.

Since the conclusion of the Summer Arts Institute, The Soraya prepares for its largest Arts Education program, which launches this fall. In an effort to continue bringing the power and the historical importance of the Violins of Hope project directly to K-12 students, The Soraya will offer 40 – 50 workshops in public and private schools during the 2019-20 school year, culminating in free matinee performances in March 2020, featuring Ashkenazi.


Violins of Hope brings 60 violins from Israel to Los Angeles, each instrument a “survivor” of the Holocaust. With concerts throughout the region, and exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, and or first ever Artist in Residence, The Soraya will bring the Violins of Hope to audiences and students far and wide.