In an Associated Press report that appeared Tuesday (6/15), Teresa Cerojano writes, “The sound of Broadway medleys and love songs echoed inside the walls of the Philippines’ maximum security penitentiary Tuesday when convicts, many of them serving life sentences for murder and other major crimes, gave their first public concert. The 100-member Bureau of Corrections Grand Orchestra and Chorale at the New Bilibid Prison in Manila played Broadway pieces and love songs in the local Tagalog language to prison officials, relatives and media. A soloist, backed by the orchestra, also sang ‘New York, New York’ as women inmates in top hats and coattails danced. Prison officials and organizers said the project was part of efforts to showcase musical talents of some of the inmates and help prepare them for release. … Bureau of Corrections Director Oscar Calderon said through music they hope to reform the inmates and ‘remove their criminal minds, soften up their feelings.’ Security in the prison was low-key during the performance, although police sharpshooters stood guard. Relatives and reporters could mingle and talk freely with the inmates inside the hall. After the performance, the inmates, clutching their instruments, were led back to their cells.”

Posted June 17, 2010