Music Brings Transformation to MCI-Norfolk

in MET News
June 11th, 2012

For the men at MCI–Norfolk, there was something to sing about this past spring when Boston University doctoral candidate in conducting Jamie Hillman and BU Professor of Music André de Quadros brought Music Appreciation (MET MU 118) to the medium-security prison through BU’s Metropolitan College Prison Education Program.

Lest one assume that “music appreciation” is a passive activity—engaged in comfortably from the cocoon of a lounge chair—it is important to note that each student in the course is expected to sing. To sing is to express oneself—and in prison, where thick skin equates to survival and emotions are obfuscated by a defensive front, self-expression can be an act of courage. As Hillman says, “Music gives voice to feelings that normally would be kept silent.”

“They let their guard down,” notes Professor de Quadros of the 23 students in his and Hillman’s team-taught class. “The class was a safe zone for them, and they were able to speak freely, to show their feelings and their emotions through music.”

Without access to musical instruments (which cannot be brought into the correctional facility), the two instructors and their guest lecturer— Emily Howe, who will be co-teaching with de Quadros at the women’s prison, MCI–Framingham, in the fall—relied upon the most basic and emotive instrument available: the human body.

“We tend to assume that education requires technology and music requires instruments,” observes Metropolitan College Dean Jay Halfond, who oversees BU’s Prison Education Program. “It is remarkable how imaginative and effective these faculty can be in a no-frills setting with just their talent and commitment. Too often the arts are reserved for those with training and proven ability, but these faculty are proving that the arts are for everyone, and that you can learn by doing.”

According to de Quadros, who for many years has been involved at the intersection of music and human rights (and who formerly worked in a Bangkok prison), “When people go into a prison, we give them food and water, because they are human, and we believe they’re entitled to food and water. For me, access to music—and not just in terms of listening to it—is also a basic human right. But that doesn’t mean handing out CDs and radios to everyone. What people need is actually the transformational experience of making music, so they can understand that power. It is an alternative to power through violence or criminal activity; it is a way of giving them power of a different kind.”

Beyond its transformational qualities, the course offers a multifaceted examination of music, says Dr. Jenifer Drew (GRS’78, GRS’84), director of BU’s Prison Education Program. Students learn, among other things, solfeggio, and music from the Western and other musical traditions. “They sing and they study the etiology and functions of specific forms of music. The professors welcome recognition of classical music from movies, cartoons, or even a ‘broken radio that only got one station.’ The students go eagerly on the journey with André and Jamie.”

Says Dean Halfond, “Once again, our prison students have demonstrated their appreciation for learning for its own sake—gaining confidence and perspective not possible without the intervention of dedicated faculty. I am very grateful for the initiative of our colleagues in the College of Fine Arts and pleased that this collaboration is working so well.”

“What resonates is the power of music, the power of an education, and the power of community,” concludes Hillman. “These men are doing time in a very productive way that betters their minds and their outlooks. It’s worthwhile, because when these prisoners are released, they end up living beside us in our neighborhoods. So, really, this benefits all of us.”

In the fall, Hillman and de Quadros will continue at MCI–Norfolk with the course Special Topics in History and Theory of Music (MET MU 501). Emily Howe and de Quadros will introduce the Music Appreciation course to the women at MCI–Framingham.

Faculty Biographies

André de Quadros

Boston University Professor of Music André de Quadros is a conductor, ethnomusicologist, human rights activist, and music educator who has conducted and undertaken research in over forty countries. He has had a number of leadership positions at Boston University, including: director of the School of Music, chair of the Music Education Department, chair of the Department of Music in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and artistic director of the Tanglewood Institute. De Quadros holds affiliated faculty appointments in other BU departments: the African Studies Center, the Center for the Study of Asia, and the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations. He has studied at the Bombay School of Music, the University of Bombay, La Trobe University (Australia), the University of Melbourne, Monash University (Australia), the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg with a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship, and the Victorian College of the Arts.

As a conductor, de Quadros is developing new cross-cultural experimental repertoire with influences of Arab, Indian, Latin American, and Indonesian music. Engagements of note include the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Bulgaria, with which he toured Spain; the Massachusetts All-State Chorus (USA); the Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra (USA); the Prokofiev Symphony Orchestra (Ukraine); the National Youth Choir of Great Britain; the Nusantara Chamber Orchestra (Indonesia); the Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra; the New Monash Orchestra; the Jauna Muzika Choir (Lithuania); and Choralies 2010 (France). He is a member of Interkultur’s World Choir Council and Artistic Director of Aswatuna—Arab Choral Initiative. As the conductor of the Manado State University Choir (Indonesia), de Quadros toured France, Sweden, and Poland in 2010, winning a first prize at the Warsaw International Competition. In 2010, he conducted a historic project with Palestinian and Israeli choral musicians in East Jerusalem. He is part of a multi-year, externally funded arts and public health research project in Peru.

De Quadros is a member of the Scientific Board of the International Network for Singing Hospitals, an advisor on the Board of the International Federation for Choral Music, a member of the Editorial Board of the peer-reviewed journal, Arts and Health, and a member of the steering committee of Conductors without Borders. He is editor of the Cambridge Companion to Choral Music (Cambridge University Press), co-editor and co-author of Tanglewood II: Summoning the Future of Music Education (to be published by GIA Press), and author of Choral Music in Global Perspective (to be published by Routledge). He is general editor of the Carmina Mundi series of Carus-Verlag, and editor of Cantemus, Salamu Aleikum—Choral Music of the Muslim World, and Music of Asia and the Pacific (Earthsongs, USA), as well as Songs of the World (Hinshaw Music, USA).

Since 2011, de Quadros has been the director of the newly constituted Music Research and Composition Network of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), the fourth-largest online repository in the world. His awards include Monash University Vice-Chancellor and President’s Special Commendation for Distinguished Teaching and a first prize in the Australian National Choral Championships. He is an Accredited Teacher, SEDA (UK), and his prior university appointments include associate professor and director of music performance at Monash University School of Music—Conservatorium, Australia. De Quadros is also former artistic director of the Melbourne International Festival of Choirs.

Jamie Hillman

Jamie Hillman is a multi-faceted musician who is active as a singer, pianist, composer, conductor, and teacher. He currently serves as associate conductor of the Worcester Children’s Chorus and as associate director of music at Grace Chapel in Lexington, Mass., the largest church in New England. From 2006 to 2008, he was a professor of music at Prairie Bible College in Three Hills, Alberta, where he taught voice and vocal pedagogy, and conducted C(h)oeurs des femmes and the Prairie Masterworks Chorale & Orchestra.

His recent engagements as tenor soloist include Handel’s Messiah with the Clark University Chorus & Orchestra, Dett’s The Chariot Jubilee with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and Windsor Classic Chorale, Saint-Säens’ Christmas Oratorio with the Rosebud Masterworks Choir, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Studio Cantorum Choir & Orchestra (Indonesia). As a pianist, Hillman has shared the stage with numerous choirs including the Boston Children’s Chorus and the Rhode Island Children’s Chorus, and professional singers such as Desiree Hassler and Kevin McMillan. His choral compositions have been performed in Asia, Europe, and North America by ensembles including the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, Boston Children’s Chorus, Les Choristes, the Oakville Children’s Choir, and Rosa Cantorum. His popular Christmas carol, Who Would Have Thought?, is published by Cypress Music (Vancouver, Canada).

Hillman is an examiner for Conservatory Canada and has adjudicated at festivals in Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Illinois, and at international festivals in Southeast Asia. His co-editorial work includes numerous editions of multicultural choral music published by Earthsongs and Hinshaw. Hillman holds an associate diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music, degrees from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is completing a doctorate in conducting at Boston University.

Emily Howe

Active as a conductor, music educator, and accompanist in the Boston area, Emily Howe is an advocate for community music-making initiatives. At Boston University, Howe conducts the 70-voice, non-auditioned Boston University Choral Society and its select women’s ensemble, the Chamber Singers. She will serve as a clinician and a member of the international jury for the 2012 Bali International Choir Festival and Competition in Indonesia.

Currently, Howe serves as a teaching fellow for the Boston Children’s Chorus, where she designs and teaches a music literacy program for students ages 7-18. A Choral Artist for the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Urban Voices program, Howe provides choral instruction founded in Kodály methodology to elementary school students in underprivileged, underserved Boston neighborhoods. As Schola Director at All Saints Parish in Brookline, she also leads a comprehensive children’s music program in the Episcopal tradition.

Born and raised in Frederick, Maryland, Howe received her earliest musical training while singing in a local children’s choir directed by her mother. Howe received the Donald Plott Memorial Scholarship to pursue further musical study at Davidson College in North Carolina, where she studied piano, voice, and conducting, and graduated with degrees in music and English literature. Howe is a graduate of the Choral Conducting program at Boston University, where she studied with Ann Howard Jones.