Alongside Vivaldi and Beethoven came music of a sort that Charlotte rarely hears. Strictly speaking, it was modern music. But thanks to the context the festival provided, it became meaningful music.
Take "Acho't Ketana'a" -- "Little sister" -- by the Israeli composer Betty Olivero, from the festival's closing concert. It combined a soprano singing a Rosh Hashana prayer, three violinists playing fragments of J.S. Bach's Chaconne, and a string orchestra's tense, mostly dissonant background. I don't know if Olivero intended it this way, but to me it came across as a musical picture of the Holocaust's tragic collision of cultures.
The festival also gave us two works by one of today's most powerful musical figures, Estonia's Arvo Part. Actually, Part's "Spiegel im Speigel", or "Mirror in the Mirror," a soulful piece for violin and piano, had turned up previously in Charlotte -- but through N.C. Dance Theatre, not a musical group. Just as Uri Sands' choreography expanded on the music's elegiac tone, so did the slideshow of concentration-camp photos that accompanied it this time. Part's "Fratres," or "Brothers," was a version of work that had been performed by the Charlotte Symphony -- in 2004. Playing off the title, the festival gave the anxious music a "Band of Brothers" resonance by showing photos of the Normandy invasion.
Violins of Hope also brought notable musicians to share the spotlight with the instruments. Unfortunately for me, I missed the return to town of Chad Hoopes, who played the Mendelssohn concert so compellingly last winter with the Charlotte Symphony. But Julia Hwang, a young Korean who studies in England, gave a compelling performance of Part's "Spiegel im Spiegel."