Anniversary Celebration Video Concert Presentations Begin

On January 11, 2021, our 5th Anniversary Celebration Video Concert made its debut at Bath Medium Institution, where Looking at the Stars presented its first ever live classical music gift to Correctional Service Canada five years ago. This international production, featuring our Founding Artist, Lukas Geniušas, includes an introduction by former inmate, James Ruston, and closing remarks by our Founder and CEO, Dmitri Kanovich. We wish to extend our sincere gratitude to Warden Ryan Beattie, Assistant Warden Gordon Zuber, the institution’s Information Technology team, and everyone who cooperated to make this presentation available to the prisoners at Bath.

This is the first in a series of video concert presentations that will be presented at a number of Correctional Service Canada institutions over the coming weeks and months. Although current COVID-19 restrictions prohibit us from organizing more of our previous live concert presentations for the foreseeable future, we hope that this video concert presentation, and others we hope to create in the year ahead, will serve to bring a glimmer of hope and dignity to those who suffer the double isolation of incarceration and pandemic protocols.

Like most not-for-profit organizations in Canada at this time, our ability to raise funds to support our work has been severely constrained. If you would like to assist us with the funding requirements to produce these alternative video concert presentations, please consider making a donation on our CanadaHelps donation page or visit our GoFundMe project. Your support is essential to the success of our mission.

Shaking off the Shackles

Former “lifer,” who spent almost 30 years behind bars, now our volunteer, spares no emotion and needs no teleprompter when introducing pianist Lukas Geniušas – a star of our video “Classical Music Triumphs Over Despair.”

 

Classical music triumphs over despair

We are unique. We gift Classical Music to those who need it most and expect it least. We are not pursuing photo opportunities. We are committed to bring dignity and hope to our audiences on a regular basis. Since 2015 we have gifted 49 classical music concerts to almost 3,500 inmates of federal correctional institutions & 1500 residents of long term care institutions in Canada. Our performers include internationally acclaimed musicians such as virtuoso violinist Maestro Gidon Kremer, pianist Lukas Geniušas, Chamber Soloists of The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, violinists Jonathan Crow, Barry Shiffman, cellist Joseph Johnson and others.

If you love classical music and are compassionate, this unusual video presentation may inspire you.

Dmitri Kanovich, Chairman, Founder and CEO
Looking at the Stars Foundation

 

[MEDIA] Another report on Maestro Gidon Kremer’s Abbotsford concert

Tanks Good News website reports on Maestro Gidon Kremer’s performance at Pacific Regional Treatment Centre, including a video clip of Kremer’s comments after the concert.

https://tanksgoodnews.com/2020/02/05/classical-violinist-plays-for-inmates-says-music-can-give-warmth-to-everyone-in-trouble/

 

 

[VIDEO] Maestro Gidon Kremer at Pacific Institution Abbotsford BC

“Music is something that spreads positive emotions. I think music is something that can give warmth to everyone in trouble, in prison or not in prison,” said 72-year-old Kremer. “I’m happy to have been here.”

CBC Reporter: “Next time If someone asks you to play in a prison?”

Kremer: “I would go immediately….”

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in partnership with Looking at the Stars supports Maestro Gidon Kremer performance

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) published a press release about their support of Maestro Gidon Kremer’s performance at Pacific Institution Regional Treatment Centre in Abbostford, BC; Looking At The Stars first musical gift of 2020.

In their press release they provide this enthusiastic quote from Maestro Kremer himself:

“I am honored to support Looking at the Stars and its wonderful and important work with my performance at Pacific Institution Regional Treatment Centre. By performing works by Bach and Weinberg in the circumstances and surroundings of a prison, I will do my small part to bring humanity and art into the inmates’ everyday life. I am sure it will be a unique and special performance for me and hopefully an inspiring event for the audience,” said violinist, Gidon Kremer.

To read the complete release, please click here.

Bath Medium Security Institution

Millhaven Regional Treatment Centre

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

An Inmate’s Response

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.”

You can read this inmate’s full correspondence here. (PDF 70K)