The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra inaugurated its Prison Outreach Program in 2015 with a series of activities involving inmates at the Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison in Hobart.
Musicians from the TSO conducted workshops in May and June involving prisoners and their families. This was a way of bringing music to the inmates and, at the same time, assisting them in building (or rebuilding) personal relationships. Inmates and their children were introduced to orchestral instruments, had a go at playing them and participated in musical games.
In July, members of the prison rock band attended a rehearsal by the TSO at Federation Concert Hall and heard acclaimed artist Isabelle Faust perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.
Musicians from the TSO returned to the Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison on 4 and 5 December for two activities. Under Chief Conductor Marko Letonja, TSO string, brass and percussion players performed for the inmates and were joined by the prison rock band for a few numbers. The following day, Family Day at the prison, Marko Letonja and the TSO gave a performance of Peter and the Wolf for inmates and their families.
The Prison Outreach Program was initiated at the request of Marko Letonja. “Music knows no barriers,” he said, “so it is only right that those who are part of the prison system should be able to experience the life-enhancing qualities of live orchestral music. What’s more, it’s good for us at the TSO to extend our reach and play for diverse audiences.”