Our Honorary President, Maestro Gidon Kremer, was met with a standing ovation by a crowd of about 90 inmates in Bath Medium Security Institution on Monday, November 1, 2021.
Kremer, who forgot his music in the suitcase in the car, noticed it only a few minutes before entering the prison gym and put some pressure on us all. Fortunately, the problem was successfully resolved, but the Event started 30 minutes late… As soon as Kremer entered the gym, a roaring ovation almost knocked him and his quintet off their feet. Maestro Kremer became extremely talkative and was in very good spirits, offering genuine warmth and love to his audience. The roaring ovation was delivered promptly and powerfully after each piece.
Following the encore, he thanked the audience for their exceptional listening and attention during the event. “I will miss you and I am wishing you all well and hope to see you again soon,” he said to the grateful audience before leaving. It seemed to me that they were having a personal conversation, focused on their shared musical experience.
Here’s a short exchange between Kremer and an inmate during a question period:
Inmate: What is the difference between the fiddle and the violin?
Kremer: Excellent question (pauses, then grins). Well, I think that fiddler fiddles and violinist plays!
It was the Maestro’s second historic performance in a Canadian prison. Photos, taken by CSC, are being reviewed by their communications department and hopefully will reach us soon.
We are compelled to share this commentary from BeLinda Roscoe, Recipient of the Governor General’s Silver Academic Medal, B.A., B.N., R.N. A and Executive Director, Regional Treatment Centre Ontario
Thank you again for providing this wonderful gift of presence and music for our patients. While RTC may be the most challenging venue in which you have played I hope you found it welcoming and receptive to your gifts. We were very touched by a number of events.
One of the patients has never been known to smile and rarely talks to anyone. This man could not keep smiling with a large grin the majority of the production and he was apparently talking to the staff member beside him often. I am hopeful it was not too disruptive.
The patients appreciated the beautiful cards they were given and I am sure as you could tell by their response for many it had tremendous impact leaving them with a positive memory of the event. The words of encouragement reinforced by a painting will provide most with a long time of continued reflection. You have left behind thoughts, feelings and a sense of belonging for many patients. The pride they had in creating crafts for Andrea had a tremendous impact on them and changes a man I am sure.
Thank you again for this gift to the patients as well as the staff.
BeLinda Roscoe, Recipient of the Governor General’s Silver Academic Medal, B.A., B.N., R.N. A
Executive Director, Regional Treatment Centre Ontario
After every musical gift we present at a correctional institution, we receive multiple communications from both inmates and institution staff. Our extraordinary collaboration with the TSO at Collins Bay and Warkworth was no exception.
“As a direct result of your visit here, I found myself listening to music that I would normally never hear. I now watch musicals on television and even live concerts regardless of the performer or language. I took out books from our library on classical music and paintings as well as other topics formerly disregarded by my bias.”
“Yesterday you were gracious enough to return to our institution. This time, I sat down in the first row! The performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was fantastic. I was genuinely touched that the members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra stayed and not only fielded questions, but mingled with the inmates. I can tell you that it is very rare for someone to willingly come here, let alone want to be here. The artists listened to everyone and the passion they exuded was evident.”
We were so gratified and humbled to receive this letter from Mr. Joseph Joseph, the Inmate Committee Chairman at Bath Institution, part of Correctional Services Canada, in response to our Looking at the Stars event on December 29, 2015.
“Your event was an overwhelming success at Bath. As the Inmate Committee Chairman, I have heard nothing but positive reports, and the impacts on the men’s lives which were immediately visible will only be fully measured over the weeks, months and years to come.
“I must admit I attended your event with some skepticism, however, the overall night was a wonderful combination of music, and vision sharing.”
Letter from Bath (PDF 82Kb)
We are truly humbled and most appreciative of the reception we received during our preliminary event series during the last week of 2015. Our sincere thanks to St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Baycrest Health Centre, Sunnybrook Veterans Centre , SickKids Hospital, and Bath Institution Correctional Services.
Our featured performer, Mr. Lukas Geniušas, was overwhelmed by the intense emotional connection he experienced with so many audience members during and after each recital. He’s excited to visit us again in April, 2016, for another event series.
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