Ever play before one? I do every day - twice a day, for an hour. They are literally a captive audience. They are the inmates in the Baltimore County Circuit Court lock up.
The jury rooms where I practice are literally interspersed throughout the third floor of the Court house, and they are situated straight across from the lockups. I bring my folder to work each day and play my second violin part to a pre-recorded performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on my iPod. The Deputies tell me that whilst practicing PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, the inmates became very quiet and pressed themselves up against the cage to hear better.
In one instance, two cell blocks...one containing some Bloods, the other containing Crips, were within shouting distance of each other, and on any given situation, these inmates would be yelling and screaming obscenities and threats at one another. Yesterday, however, I was told you could hear a pin drop in the "tank" area. Fearing that a "takedown" was about to occur, the Deputies barged into the "tank" area only to find all of the inmates pressed against the cage...quiet. The Deputies said they could hear the music coming from the jury room I was in - directly across the hall.
Although the inmates could not see me, they could hear everything I was doing perfectly well, because I left the door of the jury room open.
Today, I've been hit with requests from the Deputies,"Can you practice near block 8? We have an attempted murder suspect there...." "Hey Ann Marie, when you play today, go to 6! There are some gang members that we could use your help calming down...."
I wouldn't look to see these guys at any of our concerts, many won't be going anywhere for a while. But it is a testament to the power of classical music.
More entries: December 2010
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