Weekly Feature



2015-05-15 / Local News

Ken-Ton students travel to South Africa with Suzuki Strings


Ken-Ton students Bailey Valint, left, and Tara Porter return from a 12-day concert tour to South Africa with the Buffalo Suzuki Strings’ Friendship Touring Ensemble. Ken-Ton students Bailey Valint, left, and Tara Porter return from a 12-day concert tour to South Africa with the Buffalo Suzuki Strings’ Friendship Touring Ensemble. Two Ken-Ton students — Bailey Valint and Tara Porter — recently traveled to South Africa as part of Buffalo Suzuki Strings’ Friendship Touring Ensemble that went on a 12-day tour to Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

The students, who number 21 and come from all over Western New York, performed at the U.S. Embassy.

This year’s Friendship Touring Ensemble comprised violin, viola, cello and piano students ages 11 to 18. The ensemble performed an additional two concerts in Johannesburg and Cape Town while in South Africa.

Also, all of the families of the Buffalo Suzuki Strings’ program worked together to purchase and donate musical items to the Suzuki children in Cape Town, and the BSS group took them along on the trip.

The violin teachers of the Cape Town Suzuki program volunteer to teach the students, but they lack basic musical items, such as strings, rosin, bows and books.

“Taking some of Western New York’s finest young adults to positively impact another part of the world is a real joy and privilege,” said Mary Cay Neal, founder and executive director of Buffalo Suzuki Strings and the Friendship Touring Ensemble. “I am so proud of their hard work, dedication, and commitment and am looking forward to making meaningful connections with the people of South Africa.”

Bailey is 16 years old and plays the violin. He attends Kenmore East High School. He has played in several all-county and area-all-state orchestras, and also serves as concertmaster of his school orchestra. Outside of music, Bailey enjoys playing soccer, swimming competitively and watching Formula One racing.

Porter, 15, attends school at the Buffalo Seminary and is interested in math and science. She has been playing violin for 10 years and began viola about three years ago. She also enjoys participating in her school theater.

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