Home » Artists » Violins of Hope

Niv Ashkenazi: Bio

"The sensitivity and versatility of Niv Ashkenazi's playing brings this historic instrument to life.  His care in producing this recording is evident in every choice he makes and each note he plays."
- Thor Steingraber, Executive Director of Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)

"The violin comes alive under Niv's fingers. He is in tune not only with this instrument, which with every note brings to life those that perished in the Shoah, but with his Jewish neshama (soul) that is felt in every turn of phrase."
- Noreen Green, Artistic Director of Los Angeles Jewish Symphony

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. His conviction that the impact of music serves people beyond the concert stage motivates him to collaborate on projects that create a strong emotional bond with his audience. 

In the 2019-2020 season, he is the first ever Artist in Residence 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, released in March 2020 on Albany Records. It is the first solo album recorded on one of the Violins of Hope. 

As a soloist, Niv gave a world premiere at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall as part of VSA's 25/40 Anniversary Celebration. Concurrently, he was a featured artist in VSA's Championing of the Arts Exhibit, where his portrait and personal reflections were displayed in the Kennedy Center Hall of States. He has performed with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Juilliard String Quartet, Cavani Quartet, and Ariel Quartet. He has appeared as a soloist with the Culver City Symphony Orchestra, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, the California State University, Northridge Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra. He has been a guest artist and given masterclasses at La Sierra University, California State University, Northridge, and Westmont College. Other recent performance highlights include recitals at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara, the Perlman Music Program Alumni Recital Series, and the Epiphany Music Guild Series. 

He has been invited to perform at the Lake George Music Festival, Perlman Music Program's Chamber Music Workshop, Music Academy of the West, Keshet Eilon Summer Mastercourse in Israel, and iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates. Dyad, his innovative violin and bassoon duo, has performed on many concert series on the West Coast, collaborated with dance companies, and frequently commissions and performs new works alongside traditional repertoire. 

One of his most rewarding projects has been an ongoing involvement with Violins of Hope, an organization that uses its collection of instruments that survived World War II to educate and create awareness about the Holocaust. His work with Violins of Hope began with a residency in Sarasota, Florida through the Perlman Music Program and has since taken him to Ottawa, New Jersey, Connecticut, San Francisco, and Los Angeles for performances and educational engagements. 

Niv also performs for Street Symphony, an LA-based nonprofit which places social justice at the heart of music making and serves communities disenfranchised by homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles County. Working with Street Symphony, he has connected with audiences on Skid Row, in jails, and in transitional housing and has explored using traditional western music, improvisation, and community engagement to create powerful experiences for members of these communities. 

Niv is also in demand as a speaker who inspires and motivates diverse audiences. Recently he has spoken and performed at the Jewish Funders Network Conference, and at Secret Knock, one of America's most exclusive networking events. He has been interviewed live on LA Talk Radio and has played live on classical radio station KMZT. 

Niv holds both a B.M. and M.M. from The Juilliard School, where his teachers included Itzhak Perlman and Glenn Dicterow. He serves on the professional advisory board of Shane's Inspiration, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to building inclusive playgrounds, and formerly served on the board of the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra. 

1 Serenade  
2 Baal Shem, B. 47: II. Nigun  
3 Theme from Schindler's List (Arr. for Violin and Piano)  
4 The Chassid  
5 Bestemming : IV. Triumph (Arr. for Violin and Piano)  
6 Trois pieces de concert: I. Prelude varie - Allegretto ma deciso  
7 II. Romance - Andante con moto  
8 III. Mouvement perpetuel - Allegro vivace  
9 Dance of the Rebbitzen  
10 Berceuse Sfaradite  
11 Deux melodies hebraques: I. Kaddisch  
12 Three Songs Without Words: I. Arioso (Arr. for Violin and Piano)  
13 II. Ballad (Arr. for Violin and Piano)  
14 III. Sephardic Melody (Arr. for Violin and Piano)  
Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship

Violins of Hope is an artistic and educational project composed of instruments that were owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. Violins in the collection were played in the concentration camps and ghettos, providing a source of comfort for some and a means of survival for others. The project was founded by Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom, Israeli luthiers who collect these instruments, refurbish them to concert quality, and bring them to communities all over the world, so that their voices can be heard again. The Violins of Hope have traveled to Jerusalem, Sion, Madrid, Maastricht, Monaco, Rome, Berlin, London, Bucharest, Dachau, Dresden, and Auschwitz. In the United States, the project has been presented in Charlotte, Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Washington, D.C, Cincinnati, Nashville, Birmingham, Knoxville, Phoenix, Louisville, Fort Wayne, and San Francisco.

Niv Ashkenazi: Violins of Hope is the first solo album to be recorded on one of these instruments. Niv Ashkenazi is the only violinist in the world to hold an instrument from the Violins of Hope collection on a long-term loan, and this album was conceived as a way to create a lasting record of the voice of that violin. Ashkenazi is joined on the album by his fellow Juilliard graduate, pianist Matthew Graybil, and the duo first worked together on the project at various ‘Violins of Hope' events in Sarasota Florida in 2017. The Weinstein family commented; "Niv is the only violinist we trust absolutely to bring out the sounds of long gone horrors, with an honest sound and much love for this music and our legacy."

Crossover Media Projects with: Niv Ashkenazi