Violin tribute honors fallen detective, officers in mourning

Music speaks to mourners at Detective Benjamin Marconi memorial

SAN ANTONIO – Amid the array of flowers, messages and balloons left by a grieving public outside Public Safety Headquarters, a violinist gave a solo performance Saturday that spoke to mourners at Detective Benjamin Marconi’s memorial.

“It has a sweetness. It has a sadness to it,” said Fred Masinter about “Sad Violin,” the selection he learned by ear after Javier Hernandez found it on YouTube.

Neither man knew Marconi, but they felt his loss after learning of his murder nearly one week ago as he sat in his patrol car.

“This killing was so utterly senseless, utterly wrong,” Masinter said.

Hernandez said, “As a typical guy, you feel like you need to cry, but I said, ‘No.’”

Instead, Hernandez said he turned to his love of music to express how he felt. That’s how he came upon “Sad Violin.” Hernandez contacted Masinter who was referred by the San Antonio Symphony.

But he told Hernandez that he wouldn’t accept payment for his performance.

As a professional violinist, Masinter said he’s been playing 64 years, most recently at nursing homes, weddings and other special occasions.

But Saturday was different. He was playing to honor the fallen detective and the officers now mourning his death.

“That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m here,” Masinter said.

“Oh, it’s a wonderful tribute,” said Joann Noriega Chapa, who said she wished it could have been done for her cousin Guadalupe Martinez, who at 23 in 1970, was one of the youngest San Antonio officers killed in the line of duty.

As she stood next to her husband and two children, Krisenda Alvarez was visibly moved by “Sad Violin.”

“It’s very somber. My husband is a police officer, so it’s pretty hard,” Alvarez said.

Masinter said as a teenager he was too embarrassed to cry.

“So I’d pick up the violin and let my violin do my crying,” Masinter said. “It’s always been an expression of emotion.”

Hernandez said, “It expresses what you can’t say in words. When something like this happens, there’s no words.”

Masinter can be reached by email at fredm@masinter.net.