RECLAMATION Trailer Now Online

We’re thrilled to share this trailer from our newest video project, RECLAMATION. This documentary features parolee, James Ruston, who shares his sometimes heart-breaking but also uplifting experiences as a convict in the Canadian Federal penal system. The production is supported with amazing performances by Philip Chiu, piano, Barry Shiffman, violin and viola, and Cameron Crozman, cello. You can read all about it here.

This production is the first in a planned series of portraits of inmates and parolees who have experienced classical music performances at Looking at the Stars events.

The generous support of donors like you, without any institutional, corporate or government funding, enables us to operate. We need it in order to continue creating these documentaries and sharing these stories. Please visit our donation management partner, CanadaHelps. Thank you for your time and attention.

Beaver Creek Minimum Institution on November 9

The return to Beaver Creek Minimum after more than 2 years of forced absence was extremely successful. There was a friendly and hospitable reception by the Warden and his management team (all present throughout the event). About 35 socially distanced inmates greeted our new young performers, violinist Aaron Schwebel and cellist Drew Comstock, with several standing ovations. Only one inmate was a newcomer – the rest were our familiar audience. The performers were on a roll – they came extremely well prepared, taking the time to introduce each of the very colourful pieces they presented. Their performance was highly emotional, powerful and professional – a truly inspirational, professional and promising debut by a capable young duo! Their presentation was a breath of fresh air in the gym and filled everyone with optimism for a better future. Photos will follow as soon as CSC reviews and approves them for release.

Maestro Gidon Kremer performs to standing ovation at Bath Institution

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.

Maestro Gidon Kremer to perform at Bath Medium Security Institution on November 1, 2021

Looking at the Stars is announcing that classical violinist Maestro Gidon Kremer’s Canadian and U.S. Tour, celebrating his 75th Birthday, will include an historic concert at the Bath Medium Security Institution, in Bath, ON, on Monday, November 1, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. Kremer will be joined by a string quintet from his orchestra Kremerata Baltica.

His engagement at Bath Medium Security Institution, on November 1, marks the violinist’s second event with Looking at the Stars. In 2020, he performed at the Pacific Institution/Regional Treatment Centre while on tour in British Columbia. He was also appointed Honorary President of Looking at the Stars after seeing the effect of a classical performance on the inmates and felt the need to endorse the work of this now six-year-old charitable arts organization.

The performance at the Bath Medium Security Institution will feature Kremer and five string musicians from his orchestra, performing a program that celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Astor Piazzolla and the 75th Birthday of Kremer, with a special homage to Canada’s own Glenn Gould. Kremer founded his orchestra Kremerata Baltica 20 years ago. The orchestra consists of the best young musicians from the Baltic States (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia).

Return to Prison

Lithuanian pianist Darius Mažintas received six standing ovations and interacted with the grateful crowd of 80 Canadian prisoners at Millhaven Maximum Security Institution and Bath Medium Security Institution on October 5. The deeply emotional performance of Chopin’s Nocturnes program mesmerized the audience. The men wouldn’t let pianist Darius Mažintas leave the gym.

Looking at the Stars enjoyed a very successful return “back to business,” gifting interactive classical music concerts to Canadian federal prisoners after nearly two years of a pandemic-related forced absence from these venues.

Looking at the Stars Lithuania

Looking at the Stars is successfully setting foot in the European Union. Our Lithuanian team presented FIVE classical music events to three Lithuanian prisons and a special last-minute event to refugees from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq in a local Refugee Reception Centre in Rukla.

Top Lithuanian performers, pianist Darius Mazintas, violinist Dalia Dedinskaite and cellist Gleb Pyshniak gifted classical music masterpieces from Chopin, Halvorsen, Schuman, and others to an audience of approximately 500 inmates and 100 refugees.

Our prison concerts are actively supported by the Prison Department of the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice. All four prison concerts were attended by the Head of the Department and his cabinet members.

Except for the Refugee event, which was a last-minute surprise, all concerts were covered by Lithuanian National media. We are encouraged by the reception our events received and we are looking forward to many more such events in the future.

Behind the Scenes of our newest documentary video

We recorded our second video documentary “Reclamation,” produced in cooperation with  Henry Less Productions.

It features an emotional performance by parolee James Ruston, who will share his dramatic life story, accompanied by stellar presentations of Brahms, Shostakovich, Faure, Britten and Prokofiev, performed by a trio of outstanding performers that Looking at the Stars Foundation has worked with before — violinist  Barry Shiffman, cellist Cameron Crozman and pianist Philip Chiu.

We are hoping that “Reclamation” will serve as a testimonial to the success of our classical music gifting program in correctional institutions.

To hear more about this new video project, subscribe for updates by clicking here. We are planning to release this new documentary to the public on social media and to CSC venues at the end of August 2021.

Lukas Geniušas: concerto al Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova (S. Rachmaninov, L. Desyatnikov)

Our Founding Artist, Lukas Geniušas, presents a sublime performance recently in Genoa. We appreciate Lukas’ continuing support of Looking at the Stars Foundation.

[UPDATE] 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.

[UPDATE] We have received more than a dozen written responses from prisoners at Bath Medium Institution who attended these first screenings of our 5th Anniversary Celebration Video Concert. We were particularly moved by this one.

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.

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