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June 7, 2015 1:27 pm

Upcoming Documentary to Chronicle How Young Bronx Girl Got to Play Holocaust Survivor’s Violin (VIDEO)

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Cinematographer Bob Richman films Brianna at the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls. Photo: 'Joe's Violin' Facebook page.

Cinematographer Bob Richman films Brianna at the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls. Photo: ‘Joe’s Violin’ Facebook page.

A new upcoming documentary, titled Joe’s Violin, will detail how an instrument bought by a Holocaust survivor in postwar Germany made its way to a young girl living in the Bronx, the New York Post reported on Sunday.

The violin’s owner, Joseph Feingold, 92, grew up in Poland in a Jewish family of music enthusiasts.

When the Nazis and Soviets invaded his home country in 1939, 16-year-old Feingold was sentenced to a Siberia war camp for six and a half years. After the war he was freed and fled to Germany with his father, where they reunited with Feingold’s middle brother who had survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. His younger brother and mother died in concentration camps during the war, according to the report.

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At a flea market in Frankfurt, where Feingold lived in a displaced-persons camp in 1947 as he waited for passage to the United States, he exchanged a pack of cigarettes for a violin.

“At that time, the only thing that mattered more than dollars was American cigarettes,” he said.

With his violin in tow, he moved to New York the following year and settled on the Upper West Side, later graduating from Columbia University and then working as an architect. About six years ago, his fingers stopped being nimble enough to play the violin. When he heard about a radio charity drive last year, he donated his stowed away instrument, the New York Post reported.

Seventh-grader ­Brianna Perez, 13, was selected to receive the violin in February. She has been playing the instrument since 5 at the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls, a charter school where the instrument is mandatory.

“It felt like happiness going through your veins, just a joy feeling,” Perez said about her first time playing a violin. “It makes me feel better. When I’m sad or ­angry, I have something to look forward to — I can play the violin.”

Perez, who lives with her single mother in the Bronx, plans to audition for music high schools next year, according to the New York Post. She said she hopes to become a forensic anthropologist and a violin teacher.

The documentary Joe’s Violin will chronicle the violin’s journey from Feingold to Perez.

The project is the brainchild of TV producer and documentarian Kahane Cooperman who heard on the radio about Feingold donating his violin and wondered who would be its lucky recipient, the New York Post reported.

“I loved that two unlikely people were going to be connected by the violin,” she said.

Feingold and Perez will come face-to-face for the first time next week. Perez said about meeting the Holocaust survivor, “The only thing I’ve been thinking of is just giving him a big hug.”

Watch the trailer for Joe’s Violin below:

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  • Nicolae Moldoveanu

    please share this story: 78 year old Holocaust victim is evicted from her house by Romanian Goodwill Ambassador Alexandru Tomescu: http://identitydesign.ro/wp/index.php/2015/06/17/the-pogrom-and-the-dark-side-of-the-goodwill-ambassador-violonist-alexandru-tomescu/

  • Julian Clovelley

    If you handle a properly set and tuned violin in your hands, then even if you cannot play it there is a sense that the instrument is alive. It is a very strange and spiritual feeling. it is almost as if the instrument is weightless.

    This instrument is an ambassador for peace and for memory, a very fine gift that speaks to the player and the hearer. Its existence and its sound will tell a story that no-one else could voice, to an audience who otherwise would never hear it

    How many fine instruments sit in bank vaults and safes as materialist investments – and sometimes museums – that should be held and played. All have a message to sing – they should not be held condemned to silence. Mr Feingold is so right in treating himself more as custodian than owner. May he live long in his retirement

    Sometimes one hears of music ensembles that are created to bring people of different religions and cultures together. Music is the greatest link between cultures of them all. If only sometimes we could learn to come together, shut up, and just listen to those sounds that express emotion, presence and a common humanity – without using a single word – for within those wordless sounds so often is the love and peace we yearn for.

    • Paula Goldman

      Magnificent way of describing this wondrous event and beautiful instrument.
      Thank you.

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