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Royal Conservatory to host concerts organised by prisoners

06:03 18/02/2022

The non-profit organisation Music Projects for Brussels, which aims to reintegrate prisoners and patients from psychiatric institutions into society by helping them stage concerts, is organising a series of performances from 4 March to 9 June at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.

With the "Escapades" project, participants are exposed to different musical styles before organising a concert themselves. For the first time this year, the event will take place outside the prisons, psychiatric institutions and detoxification centres where they are usually held.

"The idea that classical music is inaccessible to many is false," says the project's founder, Patrick De Clerk. "Music is accessible to everyone, it is we humans who sometimes make it inaccessible." Convinced of the social role that this type of music can play, De Clerk says we should no longer consider it as an "exceptional cultural asset".

For many, the concert series represents a stabilising point during the fragile period of transition that follows their release or reintegration.

The "Escapades" programme is spread over several months, in the form of weekly sessions. Participants listen, some for the first time, to the music of classical composers and then share their impressions of the excerpts they have listened to. They then determine the concert programme and which soloists will be able to participate. Once the content has been developed, the speakers take charge of every aspect of organising a musical event.

"This long-term work actively helps with the reconstruction of the esteem and self-confidence of the participants," said De Clerk. "For many of them, the concert series represents a springboard to recovery and rehabilitation." Organising the concerts also allows them to establish contacts with the outside world, which may lead, in particular, to paid internships.

The opening concert will take place on March 4, with the participation of Korean violinist Clara-Jumi Kang accompanied by pianist Sunwook Kim.

Written by Nick Amies