Why Are You Here

Why Are You Here?

Sometimes the simplest of questions are the deepest. “Why are you here?” was asked at a prison recital last month. The prisoner wanted to know why performers would come to such a place when we could be anywhere else. But that question meant more to me than just why I would perform music in a prison. That question is a question any musician should be able to answer honestly at any point in their career. Why was I doing what I was doing, anyway. It is a question that forces one to … Continue Reading

Perspectives of Love and Hope

Perspectives of Love and Hope

It’s easy for me to write about my perspective during my performances in the prison. I share my point of view and snippets from prisoner surveys along with their quotes taken during our two-way discussions after each piece is performed. For the latest recital, I invited two composers and a few guests from the community to join me. I also asked a few of them to share their unique perspectives and thoughts to add a different vantage point: The surveys from the prisoners again and again revealed the importance and impact of … Continue Reading

Sharing Love and Hope Through Music

The first time I performed in prison we discovered prisoners put great value in sharing their opinions. They knew their thoughts would be shared directly with the composers of the works they heard and that made them feel like their opinions mattered. The second time I performed in prison we gained a deeper appreciation for the power of music, especially contemporary music. Hearing directly from the prisoners how new works evoked emotions and thoughts helped shape the planning for the third prison performance. The theme of the third performance was chosen by … Continue Reading

What Prisoners Taught Me About Music Appreciation Part 2

What Prisoners Taught Me About Music Appreciation, Part 2

If you were serving a long-term prison sentence right now, what words or images do you think would come to mind? After this most recent performance at Walker State Faith and Character Based Prison, I asked the prisoners to share two words or themes they wanted connected to the music for the next recital program. (I’ll reveal those later!) The words I had chosen for this recent recital were Space and Intent. I picked pieces that exposed elements of space, whether silences or long phrases, and pieces that captured various tones of … Continue Reading

What Prisoners Taught Me About Music Appreciation

What Prisoners Taught Me About Music Appreciation

Returning to Walker State Faith and Character Based Prison this past week once again left me with more than I brought in. Joining me on the hour-long recital was Nashville cellist and social worker, Michael Samis. The recital began like it did the last time I played for the men in Walker State: a sample was played and initial impressions were freely shared by the 130 men in the prison gym. The impressions from the prisoners as they shared their thoughts of each piece were touching and I will share those in … Continue Reading

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