Music in the Prisons: Days 1 and 2

Liam, Will, and Patrick enjoying some leisure time after a performance

I really need to get some sleep but my mind is spinning with thoughts about the past two days. The Me2/ cello trio performed a total of three times yesterday in the St. Johnsbury and Newport correctional facilities, and gave one performance today in the Chittenden County facility. Tomorrow morning we leave for Springfield and then head down to Windsor, returning to Burlington in time for dinner.

I won’t even attempt to share details at this time. There’s so much I could write and so few hours before I need to get up again tomorrow morning and begin driving the tour van. I’ll just share a few little vignettes:

– The first prisoner to enter the room for our very first concert yesterday walked directly to a seat in the front row, plopped down, and said with a grin, “I played the violin for 5 years.” We immediately felt more at ease.

– I giggled watching the prison guard carefully hold each cello and bow as Liam, Will, and Patrick went through the metal detector this morning. Seeing a uniformed officer with a cello in his hands was definitely a first!

– A prisoner walked quietly up to Will after today’s performance and said, “I got really emotional listening to you play. Thank you so much for doing this.”

– An audience member confided in me that they had struggled with mental health issues in the past. I asked, “How are you doing now?” and the answer I received was, “I really put my energy into making music and it helped me get through some tough times.”

– The trio played a gorgeous piece by Bach, and a man who had been listening with his eyes closed immediately raised his hand and asked, “What story is that music telling? I’d really like to know the story.”

We’ve shared a lot of smiles and laughter this week in locations that we don’t normally associate with positive emotions. I promise to share more soon, and the trio members are all composing some thoughts to post on the blog, too. Thanks to everyone who has supported us and expressed excitement over our adventure this week!

Caroline Whiddon, Executive Director