The Nashville Symphony will close its 2017/18 Aegis Sciences Classical Series with Giuseppe Verdi’s masterful Requiem on May 31-June 2 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center. These performances will offer Middle Tennesseans their final chance to experience the famed Violins of Hope in concert in Music City before the instruments return to home to Israel.
This collection of historic instruments once owned or played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust has been the centerpiece of a community-wide initiative reaching tens of thousands of people since March. Members of the Nashville Symphony will perform on the Violins of Hope during the Requiem, which will also feature the Nashville Symphony Chorus and four world-renowned vocal soloists.
Each performance will be preceded by a Meet the Violins & Violin Maker event, during which attendees can view instruments from the collection and meet Avshalom Weinstein, one of the luthiers responsible for restoring the Violins of Hope. Pre-concert events begin at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, and 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2.
Great seats are available starting at $26, and the Symphony’s Soundcheck program offers $10 tickets to students in K-12, college and grad school. Date night packages – which include two tickets, two glasses of wine and Goo Goo chocolates – are available starting at $68.
About the Program
The Requiem will serve as a powerful conclusion to the Violins of Hope Nashville initiative. The work has distinct connections to the Holocaust, having once been performed by inmates at the Theresienstadt concentration camp during a visit by the Red Cross. While the Nazis sought to deceive the world that the camp was a model resettlement village for European Jews, Rafael Schächter, an inmate who led the performances, saw the Requiem as an opportunity for his fellow inmates to discreetly express defiance toward their captors, as the text allowed them to “sing to the Nazis what they could not say to them.”
The beginnings of Verdi’s Requiem can be traced to 1868, when the composer attempted to organize a musical tribute to the recently deceased Gioachino Rossini. Verdi pulled together a dozen composers, each of whom would contribute a movement to a Requiem honoring Rossini. The project ultimately fell apart, but Verdi held on to his contribution, the “Libera me,” using it several years later in his own Requiem, which he wrote to pay homage to the late Italian novelist Alessandro Manzoni. Verdi rushed to complete the full score in time for the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death, and he conducted the piece’s premiere in the same church in Milan where Manzoni’s funeral had been held.
Verdi was not particularly religious and had little faith in the Catholicism in which he’d been raised. Yet he proved masterful at writing music of soul-stirring profundity within the conventions of the Requiem text. He channeled his skills as an opera composer in his writing for the piece, though he cautioned that “one must not sing the Mass as one sings an opera.”
The resulting score transcended both opera and liturgical music to become a work unprecedented and epic in scope. The emotional and musical breadth of the Requiem contributed to its success during Verdi’s day and its sustained popularity ever since.
Tickets for Verdi’s Requiem may be purchased:
- Online at NashvilleSymphony.org/Verdi
- Via phone at 615.687.6400
- At the Schermerhorn Symphony Center Box Office
Additional information, including program notes and a Spotify playlist, can be found at NashvilleSymphony.org/Verdi.