Welcoming Sounds

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Music from Syria, Somalia, and beyond filled the SLACO Community Center in North St. Louis during a recent concert.

The Strings of Arda ensemble traveled to the community center to take more than 30 immigrants and refugees on a musical journey. The ensemble consists of six musicians from the St. Louis Symphony. Most of the people who attended the concert were from Syria and Somalia.

Many of the families spent years living in refugee camps before coming to the United States. The resiliency of the families nearly brought the leader of the ensemble, Christian Woehr, to tears.

“If I think about it I am almost overwhelmed,” Woehr said. “It’s quite moving to me.”

The concert was part of the STL Symphony’s comprehensive Music Without Boundaries program.

The goal of the concert was to help families feel welcome in St. Louis and connect on a personal level with the region through music from around the world.

“It’s always got a great groove, and it’s such a core part of what really makes a people a people,” Woehr said.

Anita Barker with International Institute of St. Louis helped organize the concert.

“For them to have an opportunity to hear a concert with world class musicians playing music that is from around the world, and including their own country, was extremely moving for the families,” Barker said.

The music is a gift that serves as a comforting connection to the families’ history, and a warm welcome to their future.

“It made them feel much less isolated than they normally do,” Barker said.

Additional STL Symphony Music Without Boundaries concerts are planned at SLPS Nahed Chapman New American Academy on March 13, Macklind International Senior Center on March 15, and at the International Institute of St. Louis later in the spring.

Music Without Boundaries also funds transportation and ticket costs for immigrants and refugees to attend concerts at Powell Hall.