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Buffalo String Works: Bridging the Gap

Walking through The Dream Center on a Wednesday afternoon you’ll hear violins echo through the massive building on Lafayette Ave. There are six music classes going on for ages ranging from about 5 to 12 – the second stop of the day for Buffalo String Works lessons.

Buffalo String Works is a non-profit serving refugee students in the City of Buffalo. Founded by local musicians, the organization provides music programming on violin, viola, and cello, with students hailing from Nepal, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Liberia, and Somalia. Currently, BSW serves 60 students.

After more than 3 years of programming, co-founders Virginia Barron and Yuki Numata Resnick are connecting BSW with the community, extending their boundaries beyond after school programming.

This weekend…

You may have heard about BSW’s recent concert collaboration with Grammy-winning indie band The National at Town Ballroom in December. Continuing this momentum in 2018, BSW is launching The Bridge – a concert series on Buffalo’s west side, designed to bridge gaps within the refugee community as well as between the refugee community and Buffalo itself. BSW is welcoming Decoda, the first Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall for the first installment happening this Saturday. Everyone is invited – the event is free.

Q&A | Yuki Numata Resnick

We chatted with BSW Artistic Director and Co-Founder Yuki Numata Resnick to learn more about her journey with BSW.

Q: How did BSW start?
A: “Virginia and I, we had played a concert at PS45 and the kids there come from all over the world. We played a movement and we said to the class ‘what does this music make you think of?’ and this little boy came up from under the desk and he said ‘it sounds like love.’ Somehow it really hit us – how this music made a difference to these children who had come here under difficult circumstances, who weren’t able to access music easily. After the concert they all crowded around us and said ‘we want to play, we want to learn.’ Shortly after that, Virginia and I said let’s just try this and make it happen.

Q: What are the other benefits to the program?
A: The kids come away with a new skill that they’ve never had before. But this is also a social gathering place. It’s a place for families who may not have known each other to get to know each other. We’re hoping BSW can be a sense of home.

Q: What is one of your favorite moments?
A: We realized in 2017 that we played 16 concerts. 4 times a year we have all 60 students performing together. It’s overwhelming and exciting at the same time to plan these, but those 4 times a year when everyone is playing a piece together is pretty awesome.

Q: Where do you see the organization going?
A: We’re hoping to grow our student number to 100, expanding into more schools and would like to include bass.