Collins Bay - Stan Harwood

Collins Bay Minimum Security Institution

The Grand Yamaha is delivered and tuned by Mr. Gerald from Piano Esmonde White  – our new partners from Montreal. We will spend 5 incredible hours the next day in Montreal with their unique leader – a piano inventor-scientist-researcher-visionary, Mr. Oliver Esmonde White and his team. Our partnership will not be about piano rentals. It will be about the future of the instrument.

In the meantime, Cathy Galineau, Warden, welcomes our quartet and speaks about her remarkable career at CSC, about Collins Bay and about her love of classical music. As every good musician before the concert, Barry Shiffman is freezing and Cathy graciously brings several portable heaters and rescues the Event.

Inmate Committee members are setting up refreshments. The performance is taking place in the prison area, which serves as the inmates and visitors meeting space.  It is relatively cozy and perfectly suits the chamber performance.

About 60 inmates and half a dozen volunteers as well as the prison chaplain fill the hall. The performance starts with traditional inspirational, but a bit too long of a speech from Dmitri. Then Barry Shiffman takes over and music of Brahms, Bruch, Part, Prokofiev, and others fill the hall. Inmates gradually relax and questions to performers follow. Inmates speak about their feelings, childhood memories, classical music, composers. Musicians are surprised and inspired. They each tell their story about becoming musicians. Each story is different. Yolanda wanted to calm her brother down and could not think of a better way, than to use a violin.  The performers did not expect such profound and honest reactions from the audience. Musicians will later tell me, that they have never experienced such profound joy and satisfaction, never in 22 years of professional career, according to Joseph Johnson.

No photo taking, no video shooting. No audit trail of hope, joy and optimism on the faces of the inmates. Such are CSC rules. We understand and respect them. But rules and … “laws must change,” as per legendary blues guitarist John Mayall (title song from 1969 LP “The Turning Point). One day, perhaps…

Stan finishes his painting – a flying keyboard in a tapestry of colours – sounds, emotions perhaps? Painting will stay behind – it is the property of the Inmate Committee now..

Live interaction between all parties takes place – cookies and soft drinks are being served by the Inmate Committee Chairman himself. Inmates speak with musicians. Musicians do not want to leave. Who can distinguish a visitor from a resident?  The walls of the prison and the walls dividing two parties seem to disappear.

We are leaving, but a small group of inmates are staying behind.  They are looking at the stars.