“New Yorkers have opportunities aplenty to hear classical music,” writes Charles Passy in Tuesday’s (11/13) Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “The Solera Quartet’s program on Tuesday afternoon was an altogether different occasion: Think Beethoven on a floating correctional facility. The New York-based foursome presented works by the master at the Vernon C. Bain Center in the Bronx, an 870-bed jail barge…. The concert was the culmination of a weeklong workshop … that gave about 20 inmates a chance both to learn about the composer’s life and music and to create original, Beethoven-inspired works. [Inmate] Jeremiah Jackson [helped] the inmates shape one of their efforts, a three-minute composition with a jaunty rhythm and lilting melody. The inmates dubbed it ‘Island Jelly.’ The piece got the most attention at the concert, with some of the roughly 100 inmates in attendance swaying along before bursting into applause…. Officials say keeping the jail population engaged through such efforts not only reduces violence but also smooths inmates’ transition back into society.” Tommy Demenkoff, NYC Department of Correction’s director of arts education, told inmates, “Life is going to get you down, it’s going to crush your soul. But art reminds you why you have one.”

Posted November 15, 2018