Dreams Of Hope
Airs Friday, May 21, 2021 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2 (Not available to stream on demand)
The concert documentary “Dreams Of Hope” tells the story of a historic performance at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, more than 50 years after a hate crime there killed four African American girls.
An initiative called Violins of Hope contributed painstakingly restored musical instruments to the event, including violins recovered from Holocaust concentration camps, which serve as symbols of resilience in the face of hate, discrimination and racism.
With a captivating storyline written by filmmaker David L. Macon, “Dreams of Hope” blends concert performance footage with behind-the-scenes interviews chronicling the event's preparation and reflecting on its significance.
The program includes reflections by Richard Arrington, Jr., the first African-American Mayor of Birmingham; Jeffrey and Gail Bayer, co-chairs of Violins of Hope Birmingham; Chris Hamlin, former Pastor of 16th Street Baptist; Amnon and Assi Weinstein, founders of Violins of Hope; Dr. Henry Panion, III; violinist Caitlin Edwards; and Sallie Downs, who spearheaded the initiative to bring Violins of Hope to Birmingham.
Concert footage features the premiere of "Dreams of Hope for Solo Violin & Orchestra" by acclaimed composer and conductor Henry Panion, III, commissioned especially for this concert.
Alongside the Dreams of Hope Orchestra, the concert features vocalists Valerie Smith and Lenora Goodman-Panion, dancer Kelsey Ebersold, and the Miles College Choir. Violinist Caitlin Edwards returns to her hometown of Birmingham to play the Auschwitz Violin, originally built around 1850.
“Dreams Of Hope”is a demonstration of what can happen when people of different backgrounds and cultures come together on common ground and communicate with a common voice, recognizing yet celebrating their differences.
"First there was John Williams’ ‘Schindler's List’ and now there's Henry Panion's ‘Dreams of Hope.’ It's a masterpiece that should be heard at Carnegie Hall and all over the world. There are just no words for the brilliant gifts of music which we received that evening."—Amnon Weinstein
“The story of these violins and the Jewish people is of survival, hope, and triumph, one that so parallels the story of the 16th Street Baptist Church and its people. Having suffered the worst fate imaginable, the church and these violins have been beautifully restored and are now magnificent relics for all to behold. As a people of the human race, we continue to strive and hope for a better world through our struggles, our trials, our tribulations… and our triumphs.”—Dr. Henry Panion, III
Credits: Producer: Dr. Henry Panion, III; Directors: David Macon, Dr. Henry Panion, III.