Opening Concert

Logo at the top shows a violin and the title "Violins of Hope." Text below says "Opening Concert: An inspiring evening of music, dance, and visual arts. Featuring Avshalom Weinstein from Violins of Hope and a doctoral lecture

What: Violins of Hope will kick off with an opening concert featuring co-founder Avshalom Weinstein of Violins of Hope and a doctoral lecture recital by Becca Kasdan: "Imagining New Possibilities for Classical Music Performance in the 21st Century: Drawing Inspiration from the Berlin Cabarets of the Weimar Republic." Join us for an inspiring evening at the Spurlock to include musical world premieres, shadow puppetry and marionettes, dancers, and visual artists from seven countries. It will be followed by a dessert reception.

When: April 23, 5:30pm

Where: Spurlock Museum

Sponsored by: Champaign Urbana Jewish Federation, JCC Chicago, Spurlock Museum, Spurlock Museum Judaica Fund, Illini Hillel, Illini Chabad, Sinai Temple, The UIUC College of Liberal Arts & Studies Program in Jewish Culture and Society, The UIUC Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

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Becca Kasdan is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts in Violin Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a Violin Teaching Artist with Apollo's Fire - the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra in Matterson, IL. Previously, Becca studied with Violaine Melancon at the Schulich School of Musica at McGill University and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University where she received her MM and BM in Violin Performance.

Deeply passionate about chamber music, Becca has worked closely with members of the Julliard, Jupiter, Emerson, Chiara, Orion, Ying, Brentano, and Borromeo String Quartets among others. She has performed for several distinguished artists including Midori Goto, Bruno Eicher (Assistant Concertmaster MET), Axel Strauss, and Stefan Milenkovich. As a chamber musician and orchestral player, she has collaborated with many esteemed musicians including David Ying, Michael Kannen, Yael Weiss, Benjamin Zander, David Zinman, and Leon Fleischer.

A passionate and dedicated teacher, Becca is a violin faculty member at Luzerne Music Center's Senior Session and the Easton Chamber Music Festival in Massachusetts. She has presented at the Paul Rolland String Pedagogy Workshop, American String Teacher Association's National Conference, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, DePauw University School of Music, and the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

In addition, Becca is extremely devoted to bringing music into the community. She served as the first co-director of the Peabody String Sinfonia, a conductor-less string ensemble at Peabody Conservatory that performs exclusively at community venues. Becca has also been on a discussion panel with Midori discussing community engagement and outreach in the 21st century. Currently, Becca is on the Board of Trustees for the Volunteer Musicians for the Arts in Boston, MA where she received a Community Leadership Award in 2021. Becca Kasdan is the 2018 recipient of the Johns Hopkins President's Commendation for Achievement in the Arts, The Grace Clagett Ranney Prize in Chamber Music, the String Achievement from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda and Phi Kappa Phi's prestigious music guilds.

Third-generation Israeli violin maker Avshalom Weinstein, was trained by his father, master violin-maker Amnon Weinstein. He began working with his father in their Tel Aviv atelier in 1998 as a violin-maker and restorer of violins, violas, and cellos of the highest level.

He is trained in the tradition of the Italien Cremonese School of violin-makers and the French school of restoration. Avshalom also joined his father in Keshet Eilon Violin and Bow making atelier at Keshet Eilon Master Class for young violinsts each summer since 1998. He was invited to join the CAKA Program (Cihat ASkin and Kucuk Arkadaslari) in Turkey in 2006, and has been working during CAKA courses since then. Avshalom opened his own worshop in Istanbul in 2009, where he continues the family tradition. Avshalom has also been training with Master Bow-Maker Daniel Schmidt from Dresden in bow repairs since 2009.

Avshalom is the founder of the Violins of Hope project together with his father. Violins of Hope refers to the Weinsteins' collection of instruments with unique stories dating back to Jewish musical tradition and World War 2. Both Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein collect these instruments and restore them with love and attention and bring them back to life as concert instruments.

Since 2006, Violins of Hope were invited by leading orchestras and music festivals in Europe and America, among which was the Berliner Philharmoniker (on 27th January 2015); the Cleveland Symphony (in September 2015); and many others. The project also includes chamber music concerts as well as educational programs, lectures, exhibitions of instruments and their histories.