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Stories from the Violins of Hope

The Holocaust had silenced them, until an extraordinary violin-maker brought their voices back to life, and to the world.
Jan. 31 & Feb. 21, 2021

PRESS

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THE PROGRAM

Written by Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum
Directed by Susan Morgenstern
Developed and Produced by Ronda Spinak
Music Curated by Dr. Noreen Green
In Association with Susanne Reyto, Chairman of the Violins of Hope Los Angeles County
With a special musical performance featuring Cantor Tifani Coyot and Rabbi Jaclyn Cohen, Temple Isaiah, and welcome from Rabbi Zoë Klein Miles.
Stories from the Violins of Hope was commissioned with a generous gift from Gail Solo.
With deepest gratitude to Amnon and Avshi Weinstein and their extraordinary family for sharing their story.

PRE-SHOW

Welcome – Rabbi Zoë Klein Miles, Temple Isaiah
A Message from Susanne Reyto, Chairman, Violins of Hope Los Angeles County
Words from Noreen Green, Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony
A song in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day “Adonai Roi,” composed by Gerald Cohen
Featuring Cantor Tifani Coyot and Rabbi Jaclyn Cohen
Introduction – Ronda Spinak, Artistic Director of The Braid, formerly Jewish Women’s Theatre

THE SHOW: Stories from the Violins of Hope

Starring Andrew Fromer, Lisa Ann Grant, AJ Meijer, Rosie Moss, Robert Trebor, Cliff Weissman, and Rick Zieff
|Musicians: Mark and Niv Ashkenazi, Violins; Michael Larco, Viola; Barry Gold, Cello; Noreen Green, Piano

ARTIST BIOS

NIV ASHKENAZI (Violin II) Virtuoso violinist Niv Ashkenazi has captivated audiences with his heartfelt musicianship and emotional performances. Praised for his “lush sound” and “passionate playing” (CASA Magazine) and “formidable technical powers” (Santa Barbara News-Press), he has made several Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center appearances and has performed in Europe, the Middle East, and across North America. As a chamber musician, he has performed with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Juilliard String Quartet, Cavani Quartet, and Ariel Quartet.

In the 2019-2020 season, Mr. Ashkenazi was the first-ever Artist in Resi- dence at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya). His debut album, Niv Ashkenazi: Violins of Hope, recorded at The Soraya, was released in March 2020 on Albany Records and was named one of the best classical recordings of 2020 by the Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Ashkenazi holds both a BM and MM from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Itzhak Perlman, Glenn Dicterow, Ronald Copes, and Stephen Clapp.

RABBI JACLYN COHEN (Cantorial Soloist, Temple Isaiah) is proud to serve as Cantorial Soloist on Temple Isaiah’s dynamic clergy team. Born and raised in West LA, Rabbi Cohen earned a BA in Religious Studies & Music from UC Davis. Music has always been the lifeblood of her work and she has integrated music of all genres into her rabbinate. As Cantorial Soloist at Temple Isaiah, Rabbi Cohen works closely with Cantor Coyot and Isaiah’s talented, dedicated team of synagogue musicians and choirs. Outside the synagogue, she is a writer and advocate for maternal and mental health, having contributed articles to Kveller, Jewish Daily Forward, and The Chalkboard Mag, among others. Rabbi Cohen is also a certified yoga teacher, fusing her passion for the practice with a deep love of prayer.

CANTOR TIFANI COYOT (Temple Isaiah) received her ordination as Cantor at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, with a double masters in Sacred Music and Jewish Education. She has served in many leadership roles for the American Conference of Cantors, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Hebrew Union College. She is an avid supporter of the Jewish community in France and serves as an artist-in-residence in Paris. Her vision is to create Jewish experiences that are meaningful and relevant. Her passion is in the mind, body, spirit connection and inspiring others to use Jewish wisdom to enhance their modern lives.

ANDREW FROMER (Ensemble), a Los Angeles native, grew up as an active member in the Jewish community through Stephen Wise Temple. He attended Wind- ward School in Mar Vista, where his career as an actor began in the school plays and musicals. After completing his BFA in theater at UC Santa Barbara and an exciting year of living in Israel, Andrew returned to LA for acting and producing. His TV credits include Never Have I Ever (Netflix) and Anger Management (FX); feature film credits include Highway to Havasu (Billy/Producer) and The Sweet Life (Mike/Assistant to Production). Andrew also edits and directs and is excited to be coordinating this year’s iteration of NEXT @ The Braid’s Emerging Artists Fellowship. Find out more info at https://the-braid.org/ category/nextbraid/.

BARRY GOLD (Cello) has been a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1982. He has appeared as soloist with the Philharmonic, is a frequent per- former at Philharmonic Chamber Music Society concerts, and has participated in a number of world premieres on Philharmonic New Music Group programs. He is also featured with the New Music Group on the recording of John Harbison’s The Natural World.

A Young Musicians Foundation scholarship recipient, the Los Angeles native began his performing career as a member of the YMF Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles. While still a teenager, Mr. Gold was a member of a piano trio that won a prestigious Coleman Chamber Music Prize. He earned both his BA and MM degrees from The Juilliard School of Music, which awarded him the Eduard Steuermann Memorial Prize upon his graduation.

Mr. Gold has been Principal Cellist and soloist with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony since 1997.

LISA ANN GRANT (Ensemble) is thrilled to be an Abby Freeman Artist-in-Residence with The Braid. Originally from New York City, Lisa appeared on Broadway as Eponine in Les Miserables, and in various roles in Leader of the Pack, DreamGirls, and Camelot. She appeared off-Broadway with Robert Downey Jr. and Jane Krakowski in American Passion and Radio City Music Hall as a soloist. On television she has appeared on Comedy Central, Disney Junior, Stacked, Charmed, ER, and Crossing Jordan, as well as several commercials and voice-overs, including the animated feature Max and Me. Lisa is excited to be working on an album of original music with her friend Lisa Yves.

DR. NOREEN GREEN (Conductor/Piano) is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, which she founded in 1994. Known worldwide for her knowledge and skill in presenting music with Jewish themes, she has served as guest conductor in the United States, Israel, South Africa, Australia, and Canada. In 2017, Dr. Green was honored by Musical America, the oldest and most prestigious American magazine on classical music, as one of the Top 30 Musical America Professionals of the Year.

In February 2020, Dr. Green’s life and career was the subject of a Spotlight Series documentary by the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, which was featured on the Archive’s website and YouTube. After many years of collaborating with local choirs, in 2020 Dr. Green founded the Jewish Community Chorale, a program of the LAJS. While the pandemic prevents live performances, the JCC functions as a virtual choir and made its debut on Jewish Life Television (JLTV) on July 3, 2020.

MARK KASHPER (Violin I) As one of its founding members, Virtuoso Mark Kashper is in his 26th season as featured soloist and Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. This is also his 34th year as Associate Principal Second Violinist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has appeared as a soloist at the Hollywood Bowl and the Ojai Festival, as well as in many New Music Group and Chamber Music Series programs, collaborating with such distinguished musicians as Heinz Holliger, Andre Previn, Emanuel Ax, and Yefim Bronfman.

In 2011, Mr. Kashper participated in the concerts of the Super World Orchestra, an ensemble made up of principal players from many of the world’s greatest orchestras, under the direction of Lorin Maazel.

Mr. Kashper graduated from the Moscow Conservatoire and the Leningrad Conservatoire. As an Assistant Concertmaster and soloist with the Moscow Conservatoire Chamber Orchestra, he performed extensively throughout the Soviet Union, Europe and Latin America.

MICHAEL LARCO (Viola) was Assistant Principal Violist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 2005 until 2012, when he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has collaborated in concert with Lynn Harrell, Itzhak Perlman, Alisa Weilerstein and Rachel Barton Pine. Recent appearances include a Chicago “Dame Myra Hess” recital debut, broadcast live on WFMT, as well as performances at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Larco has served as Principal Violist of the Juilliard Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, Kurt Masur, and James Con- lon. In recent seasons, he has performed in the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. A founding member of the New York City-based Fountain Ensemble, the Juilliard graduate has taught at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford and the School for Strings in New York. Mr. Larco has been Principal Violist with the LAJS since 2016.

AJ MEIJER (Ensemble) is an Abby Freeman Artist-in-Residence with The Braid. Film: The Laundromat (directed by Steven Soderbergh), All About Nina (with Common and Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Life Partners (with Adam Brody and Leighton Meester), Broken Horses (with Vincent D’Onfrio and Anton Yelchin). TV: Sneaky Pete, NCIS:LA, Hannah Montana. He is a member of the original cast of the off-Broadway smash hit musical Heathers and featured on the cast recording. He co-founded the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble and was seen in their productions of The War Cycle (Ovation Award nomination). Regional: Lennie in Of Mice and Men at TheatreWorks, Silicon Valley; All About Gordon at the Ahmanson; Getty Center with the National Theatre of Greece; Tug of War at the Getty Villa. AJ is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television. More info at ajmeijer.com.

ZOË KLEIN MILES (Rabbi) has served Temple Isaiah since 2000, currently as the Director of Adult Education and Engagement. She is the author of the novel Drawing in the Dust and the children’s book The Goblins of Knottingham: A History of Challah. Her book of Jewish short stories will be released soon by CCAR Press. Rabbi Klein Miles has written articles for numerous publications and written chapters in a number of collections, including The Women’s Torah Commentary, Teen Texts, and Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. Her poems and prayers are used in houses of prayer around the country.

SUSAN MORGENSTERN (Producing Director) began directing in college by staging musical theatre concert readings while co-teaching American Musical Comedy with Tom Lehrer at UC Santa Cruz.  She went on to teach and direct at the renowned Stage Door Manor performing arts camp in upstate New York.  In Los Angeles, Susan has directed several shows at Theatre West, including Saturday Night at Grossinger’s, book by Stephen Cole, music by Claibe Richardson; and Barbara Nell Beery’s play, The Socialization of Ruthie Shapiro.  At the Falcon/Garry Marshall Theatre, she directed Leap, by Arnold Margolin, Surviving Sex, by David Landsberg, and the hit comedy, The Psychic, by Sam Bobrick.  Susan directed Happy Days, a New Musical, book by Garry Marshall, music/lyrics by Paul Williams, at Cabrillo Music Theatre.  She directed an extended-run production of Meryl Cohn’s comedy Reasons to Live at the Skylight Theatre. She co-authored and directed 18 Minutes of Fame: A Musical Journey with Barbara Minkus in both Los Angeles and NYC. Susan works as a consultant show director at Disneyland, where she has had the privilege of working with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and all their pals. She has directed many Braid salon shows, as well as Annie Korzen: Famous Actress, and Ovation-recommended Sacred Resistance. Her position at The Braid has become the most meaningful of her theatre career, working with amazing actors, writers, and Braid leadership, while also informing and illuminating her Jewish life.

ROSIE MOSS (Ensemble) is an Abby Freeman Artist-in-Residence with The Braid. She starred in Epic Level Entertainment’s feature film Blood Born and Lifetime Network’s digital series The Rookie. Her TV credits include appearances on ABC’s The Conners and Freeform’s Famous in Love. She originated the role of Sarah Kaufman in the West Coast Jewish Theatre’s production of FUGU. Other theatre credits include Macbethx5 (The Odyssey), The Physicists (Sacred Fools), and The Ascent (The Blank Theatre). Film: To Be King, Strangers, One Halloween and American Girl. Rosie has also written, produced, and acted in two short films: The Pass and Enchanted, LLC. She is a Jewish educator and B’nai Mitzvah mentor and officiant, and is currently in a masters program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She earned her BFA at Boston University. Keep up with Rosie at RosieMoss.com.

SUSANNE REYTO (Chairman, Violins of Hope Los Angeles County) is a child survivor of the Holocaust who has dedicated her life to preserving history and educating future generations through various programs and projects. Her childhood experiences and her ultimate escape from Communist Hungary in the late 1950s left Susanne with an unwavering spirit of optimism and perseverance. She is a frequent speaker at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and is a past Chairman of the Board of Governors of City of Hope, American Freedom Alliance, board member of the Beverly Hills Women’s Club, president of Hadassah Los Angeles and ZOA Western Region. Susanne is also an award-winning author, speaker, world traveler, and an ardent supporter of Israel and the free world. Her book, Pursuit of Freedom, has been designated as recommended reading for youngsters. Susanne is married and has one daughter and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at 310 200-6694 or by email at rsrlaser@aol.com.

LISA PEARL ROSENBAUM (Playwright) is the author of the novel A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown & Co., 2006) and Sacrificial Man, a novel of
the McCarthy Era, which she is currently adapting as a play. Lisa is a longtime writer and dramaturg with The Braid and, along with a small but mighty team, produces and hosts podcasts and Sunday with The Braid—performances and conversations with Jews whose work enriches the American experience. She has produced several plays, including The Survivor by Rabbi Susan Nanus (The Electric Lodge). Lisa is honored that the ever-generous Gail Solo and Ronda Spinak invited her to write the first theatrical piece about the Violins of Hope, a remarkable true story of the enduring power of family and music.

RONDA SPINAK (Producer, Script Development, and Artistic Director of The Braid) co-founded The Braid, formerly Jewish Women’s Theatre, and created its signature art form, Salon Theatre. She has curated, adapted, and produced the 645 stories performed in The Braid’s more than 62 original Jewish-themed Salon Theatre shows. Spinak developed and produced Ovation-recommended Not That Jewish, which ran for 16 months, garnered an LA Drama Critics Circle nomination, and then moved to off-Broadway. Spinak also re-developed and produced Rain Pryor’s hit show Fried Chicken & Latkes and Vicki Juditz’s Ovation-recommended Sacred Resistance. Spinak co-wrote Stories from the Fringe, putting the stories of women rabbis on stage for the first time. Since then, she and her team have interviewed on videotape 180 national and international women rabbis, and in partnership with Jewish Women’s Archive have made many of the interviews available online at www.jwa.org. She has written for Rugrats, and her plays include Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival. She is on the board of the Alliance for Jewish Theatres and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She feels blessed to be working with so many generous people who give their hearts and souls to The Braid.

ROBERT TREBOR (Amnon Weinstein) had major roles in John Frankenheimer’s 52 Pick-Up, Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio, and co-starred in the Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar! He is best remembered for playing the Son of Sam opposite Martin Sheen in Out of the Darkness, and Salmoneus on the Hercules and Xena TV series. He began his theatre career in 1973 (with Robin Williams) and more recently won awards for his work in the world premieres of Ravensridge, La Ronde de Lunch, and his one-man show The Return of Brother Theodore. Bob is the author of The Haircut Who Would Be King, which garnered the following Kirkus review: “Debut author Trebor displays a sharp attunement to the politically absurd and a talent for making the already peculiar into the raucously silly. Also, the book slyly interjects some serious reflection into…a hilarious rendering of the contemporary political scene.” It’s available at all online booksellers. Bob is proud to be an Abby Freeman Artist-in-Residence with The Braid. He was also concertmaster of his elementary school orchestra in Philadelphia in 1964.

CLIFF WEISSMAN (Ensemble) is an Abby Freeman Artist-In-Residence with The Braid and has appeared in several Salon presentations. His acting career spans more than 35 years with dozens of roles in film, television, commercials and theatre. Recent television credits include Better Call Saul, The Resident, and Brockmire.

AUDREY YODER (Managing Director and Education Program Director of the LAJS) has a multifaceted background in performing arts and arts administra- tion. She has performed, conducted, directed, and lectured with many arts organizations and universities across California, including CSUN, California Lutheran University, Santa Monica College, Opera Santa Barbara, Pacific Opera Project, City of Angels Community Choirs, and LA Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Yoder’s expertise as a social-media manager has benefited numerous nonprofits with community engagement, exemplified by the collaboration with Fuente Latina to promote the LAJS’s education outreach program, A Patch- work of Cultures: Exploring the Sephardic-Latino Connection.

A champion of new music, Ms. Yoder has spearheaded an online interview series highlighting contemporary composers. She remains dedicated to the nonprofit arts scene in LA and has volunteered with several organizations, in- cluding Street Symphony’s The Messiah Project at Midnight Mission. Ms. Yoder holds a Master of Music degree from California State University, Northridge.

RICK ZIEFF (Moshe) Stories from the Violins of Hope is the junction of two universes that define much of Rick Zieff’s career. One is the Jewish experience: Yiddle with a Fiddle on Broadway; the title character in The Mensch off-Broadway; Sophie: The Life of Sophie Tucker at the Jewish Rep in NYC; and Love, Dreams, and Lost Uncles opposite Shelley Berman here in L.A. His other projects raise social and political consciousness: political activist Andrew Goodman in the film Mississippi Burning; Kennedy campaign strategist in The New Voice on PBS; conflicted rabbi in Shalom Vietnam; and Richard Nixon in the upcoming animated feature Fun with Dick and John. Rick is currently in his sixth season on The Tom and Jerry Show, for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award voicing Spike the Dog. He is also a busy voice-over coach.

GALLERY

Robert Trebor as Amnon Weinstein