Event Details

Saturday, June 19th, 2021
Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Build A House: Rhiannon Giddens & Yo-Yo Ma


Grammy Award-winning musician, historian and Silkroad Ensemble Artistic Director Rhiannon Giddens, in collaboration with celebrated Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma, will debut Juneteenth: From The Past To The Living Present. Weaving banjo, folk music, and storytelling, this guided walk centers the profound contributions of African Americans on American culture, music and history, seeking to imagine a society of inclusion, connection, empathy and justice.


Build A House narrative
Text by Rhiannon Giddens and Silkroad
Narration by Rhiannon Giddens
Additional text and stories from Lewiston, NY by Carin Jean White

The Buffalo News’ Jeff Miers had this to say after experiencing Sonic Trails

“In a flash, I felt the power of the land and the presence of those who had passed through it. Not in some Hallmark Channel, neatly wrapped-with-a-bow manner. But through a strong and deep mini-epiphany that was both exhilarating and profoundly sad.”

Available daily from dawn until dusk until December 3rd

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Due to the amount of music contained within the experience we recommend downloading this app before you arrive at Artpark.

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Click here to see all Sonic Trails experiences available this year.

Rhiannon Giddens 

A MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Rhiannon Giddens is widely recognized as an accomplished singer, banjoist, and fiddle player. She co-founded the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old-time string band that received a Grammy Award in 2010. Giddens herself has been Grammy nominated for her solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, and for her T Bone Burnett-produced EP, Factory Girl. She also performed for the Obamas at the White House and acted in two seasons of the hit television series, Nashville. In her continuous quest to excavate the past to reveal truths about our present, Giddens’ recent projects are steeped in history and bring attention to critical issues in our society. In 2019 she contributed to the album, Songs of Our Native Daughters, which tells stories of historic Black womanhood and survival. That same year, her collaboration with Francesco Turrisi, there is no Other, offered at once a condemnation of “othering” and a celebration of the spread of ideas, connectivity, and shared experience.

Silkroad Ensemble

Yo-Yo Ma conceived Silkroad in 1998 as a reminder that even as rapid globalization resulted in division, it brought extraordinary possibilities for working together. Seeking to understand this dynamic, he recognized the historical Silk Road as a model for cultural collaboration – for the exchange of ideas, tradition, and innovation across borders. In a groundbreaking experiment, he brought together musicians from the lands of the Silk Road to co-create a new artistic idiom: a musical language founded in difference, a metaphor for the benefits of a more connected world.

This initial gathering of artists was rooted in a simple, initial question: “What happens when strangers meet?” And thus Silkroad was born, as both a touring ensemble comprised of world-class musicians from all over the globe, and a social impact organization working to make a positive impact across borders through the arts.

Today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Rhiannon Giddens, Silkroad creates music that engages difference, sparking cultural collaboration and high quality arts education to help build a more hopeful and inclusive world. What does this look like?

  • The Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble — Silkroad thrills audiences worldwide with a collective of artists representing dozens of nationalities and artistic traditions, demonstrating how great beauty can emerge from great difference.

  • Creation of new music — Silkroad builds upon a musical language founded in difference and collaboration that draws on the rich tapestry of world traditions that make up our many-layered contemporary identities.

  • Social impact initiatives — Silkroad brings music, hope, and healing to underserved,  culturally rich, urban, rural, indigenous, and refugee communities.

  • Educational partnerships — Silkroad uses the arts to ignite passions and foster education  in students, teachers, and musicians through training workshops and residency programs in public schools, universities, prisons, and indigenous and refugee communities.

For more information, visit silkroad.org