April 21, 7 pm.
Last Stop. Back to Ontario. We are now aware that we will have to compete with Leafs again, fighting the Capitals, but we are better equipped to win: we have Igor Gefter with his cello teaming up with Lukas, Bob Rae our Chairman and his wife Arlene in the audience and Warden, Larry Ringler, – our first host at CSC, a former acting Warden from Bath, and Nancy Pearson, Assistant Warden, who was instrumental in preparing the event. The gym is packed with inmates and staff (again).
Lukas and Igor present a sparkling program of chamber and solo performances, enticing the audience of about 75 inmates. Musicians shared insights and stories about the music they presented. The classical repertoire included works by Bach, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Chopin, Bruch, and several contemporary composers. Inmates and numerous staff listened carefully despite the infrequent, but thought-provoking commentary by Dmitri, who continues to believe in Oscar Wilde’s observation that “…we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Then came an encore – a colourful piece by an Armenian composer, and to finish, in contrast – a simple and peaceful yet extremely powerful melody by a Lithuanian composer, performed by Lukas with a special dedication and sentiment to his heritage. Our only hope was for a cautious optimism to be planted in the gym that night. The following extensive communication and interaction between inmates, musicians and guests seemed to emphasize the success of building bridges among all of the participants. Lukas’s CDs are presented to many of the inmates and CSC staff. Another challenging question from one of the inmates, “Many of us here are wrongfully convicted; how can we find justice?” Leafs lost again in OT (1:2).
Event photo gallery coming soon.
April 20, 6:30 pm
Second Stop. Our first event in Quebec. We were warned that our Event will again compete with another Stanley Cup play off game between the Canadiens and Rangers but we took the risk. The event started at 6:30 p.m. with Warden, Julie Cobb, and Biil Rasmus, CSC National Headquarters present. We wanted to have at least 30 minutes before the game started to give people an option to check us out.
Lukas opened with Moonlight Sonata in memory of the inmate from Bath. The audience of about 25 inmates remained seated, when Dmitri offered to swap the Event for TV at 7:00 p.m. The Event continued with Stan Harwood at the easel, creating his first-in-prison painting, inspired by the atmosphere of genuine interest and concentration of the double-captive audience on one side and passionate illuminating performance by Lukas (he was absolutely at his best this evening) at a Yamaha Grand piano on the other. The event has suddenly turned into a colourful universe of sound, colour and reflection, taking the inmates away from the prison gym, away from the institution.
And not only inmates – prison staff, too, which was a new and unexpectedly gratifying discovery. Stan donated the painting to the Inmate Committee Chairman during the communication session with inmates, most of whom were about to be paroled. At one point during the post-concert conversation, an inmate approached me to ask, “Mr. Kanovich, I am an IT professional – can I call you after I am out in 3 months time?” Although I had no answer for him, it was encouraging to hear inmates considering a productive future. Canadiens were once again defeated by Rangers in the OT (1:2).
We also received this very moving testimonial from our Artist of the Evening, Mr. Stan Harwood:
Just a few words my experience with you and the team at Archambault Institution on April 20th, 2017.
The blended formation of fine piano works and spontaneous art creation will resonate with me for some time. I consider it a privilege to perform together with Lukas to create this live spectacle.
The positive comments expressed by the inmates affirms that art creation is an effective outreach. If just one of the inmates takes up a brush so that they too can express themselves in a healthy manner, then I would hold this to be a breakthrough performance. And as such, would serve as a high form of affirmation that my art not only offers a visual appeal, but does touch the soul. No artist could ask for more.
As I explained to the audience, abstract art forms have the unique capacity to evoke our emotional makeup. We should permit the artwork to prompt us to ask how we feel as opposed to what the art work might be. This is the essence of abstract, to incite an emotional response.
Please count me in to take part in this team outreach again.
April 19, 7 pm
First stop. A return to Bath, to the audience of our historic December 2015 first CSC event was very meaningful and emotional. We did not think/know that we would compete with the Stanley Cup play off happening at the same time. There were at least twice as many people in the gym (around 80) compared to what we had at the chapel a year and a half ago. Warden, Kathy Hinch, and Assistant Warden, Gord Zuber, were both present.
Lukas opened a 70-minute program by calling on an inmate, who in 2015 requested a special encore (Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata). There was no answer. We were told later that the inmate had passed away a month previous. Another inmate – the author of the anonymous letter expressing the depth of the impact that our first event had on his life – identified himself during the post-event communications session.
One of many questions I got that night was, “Mr. Kanovich, I will be paroled in 3 weeks after serving 31 years. Where do I go and what should I do?” Regretfully, I had no answer for him. Stanley Cup play off game between the Maple Leafs and Capitals failed twice that evening – it did not impact inmates attendance of our little event (we had a full house) and ended in the Leafs defeat (4:5).
“Lukas Geniusas placed second at the Chopin International Competition in 2010, and again at the Tchaikovsky in 2015. Whatever the value of those judgments, Geniusas (the name is pronounced with a hard G, ‘GEN-yu-shas’) made a spectacular Washington debut Sunday at the Phillips Collection.
“The young Russian blew past the first benchmark to meet, technical prowess, with an explosive rendition of Bartok’s ‘Three Burlesques.’ His ‘Quarrel’ movement was vituperative, but the other two movements were more than virtuosic, the ‘Slightly Tipsy’ movement drenched in swirling color and the ‘Capriccioso’ lost in a daydream.
We are pleased to announce our Spring Series 2017. These new musical gifts continue our focus on Correctional Services Canada events, which had such a positive impact in 2016.
Click the name of the venue to view the musical programme for each event.
We thank Pinnacle Music Studios (Belleville) for supplying Yamaha grand pianos for the Bath and Warkworth events. We are also grateful to Piano Heritage (Laval) for providing a Yamaha grand piano for the Archambault performance.
For this second visit in 12 months, Looking at the Stars delivered a chamber ensemble, comprising our featured artist, Lukas Geniušas, and two Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) principal musicians, Jonathan Crow (1st violin) and Joseph Johnson (cello). The stunning Baycrest atrium was packed – approximately 300 residents, caregivers, staff and guests enjoyed a brilliant one-hour performance by three outstanding musicians. The program included the works of Chopin, Haydn, Schubert, and Schumann. This international trio were at their best. Communication with residents, who included Aushwitz survivors, was short, but meaningful – few were able to speak easily. Clasped hands and personal eye contact with residents replaced verbal exchanges and family members and relatives expressed their appreciation on behalf of those who were unable to speak. These were very emotional interactions, and we are grateful for the opportunity to deliver these musical gifts to recipients who truly need this music in their lives.
We had to do it, because we need to pay for the gifts we bring to our audiences. We could not have thought of a better way than to do it as we did it – ourselves. Approximately 75 supporters attended this fundraising recital in the delightful Heliconian Hall. On behalf of the BCI inmates and Baycrest residents who have enjoyed Looking at the Stars concerts recently, we thank you for your contributions.
This was Lukas’ all Chopin evening. Our virtuoso was at his best and so was the audience. You could hear a pin drop during his performance. Founders and guests spoke warmly about the project, commemorating our first anniversary. We have a lot more to learn, but we will continue on this path. Sign up for our newsletter to receive advance announcements about future fundraising events.
P.O. Box 43507
1601 Bayview Avenue
Charitable Registration No.
77958 5298 RR0001