Music program bridges gap in prisons

Last year’s cello trio from left to right: Will Kiendl of Shelburne, Liam John, Conductor Ronald Braunstein, and Patrick Maguire

Last year’s cello trio from left to right: Will Kiendl of Shelburne, Liam John, Conductor Ronald Braunstein, and Patrick Maguire

The “Music in the Prisons” (ME2/) program continues this month with a performance for inmates at the Southern State Correctional Facility. The entire orchestra will travel to Springfield, Vt. on April 6 to present an arrangement of “Amazing Grace” by Travis Carpenter, as well as works by Brahms and Mozart. The orchestra will also perform the first movement of Symphony No. 1 by Vermont composer David Hamlin.

Why bring music into prisons? Many people incarcerated in the U.S. have committed non-violent crimes and will be released into our communities after serving their sentences. We hope to participate in the rehabilitation process by providing inmates with a connection to the outside world and encouraging them to move past the stigma – both from society and self-imposed – surrounding mental illnesses. 

The performance in Springfield is a follow-up to the concert tour by the ME2/ cello trio last August. The trio performed in all eight of Vermont’s correctional facilities over the course of one week. As one musician said about the experience, I’ve played with many different community orchestras over the years, but never have I felt as deeply satisfied with our work as I feel after a ME2 performance.”

Last year’s “Music in the Prisons” tour was funded through a grant from the Vermont Community Foundation, as well as gifts from individuals. This year, ME2/ received funding from the inmates at the Southern State Correctional Facility, who designated a portion of their recreation funds to support ME2/’s performance. Unfortunately, this won’t cover the expenses. Any tax-deductible gift of $10, $20, or $50 will ensure this project’s success. To support “Music in the Prisons,” please visit www.me2orchestra.org/make-a-gift. You can designate your gift for Music in the Prisons in the ‘Add special instructions’ field after you’ve entered an amount and logged in. Send any inquiries for scheduling a performance to ME2orchestra@gmail.com.

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