What “Makes Us Fundamentally Human” In MET class, prisoners bare their musical souls
Jamie Hillman was surprised by the enthusiasm of the men in his freewheeling music class at MCI-Norfolk last spring, part of BU’s Prison Education Program. But it wasn’t until the instructor learned that the inmates, several serving life sentences, were singing the mournful Handel aria “Lascia ch’io pianga” in the shower, that Hillman (CFA’13), a College of Fine Arts doctoral candidate, realized that he was making a difference in their lives.
They have certainly made a difference in his. Faculty mentor and coinstructor Andre de Quadros says that Hillman “is traveling down the normal pathway of being a choral conductor and suddenly he goes wide angle and adopts a socially responsible lens to his work.” For Hillman, the experience was rewarding beyond expectation, and a testament to the transcendent power of music. “You need a thick skin to survive in prison, and it was interesting, week by week, seeing people let their guards down,” he says. “We called our classroom a safe haven.”
-By Susan Seligson
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