“To sing in a choir goes beyond studying music: it means entering a community. It is a powerful means of relation on an intellectual, emotional and physical level and changes your life.” These are the words of Claudio Abbado, creator of “Sistema”, an extraordinary project to promote music in Venezuela.
Papageno is created from the awareness that music can be a means of social redemption for the individual.
Singing together teaches men the worth of listening and mutual respect, helps them relate and bond. Since 2011, Papagena follows a polyphonic choir in the “Dozza” prison in Bologna. The choir is made up of both male and female detainees, which is particularly unusual for prisons.
Thanks to the Association, the activity of Papageno has never stopped. Since the beginning, the choir has welcomed 3000 detainees. At least two concerts take place every year with one of them being only for the community of detainees, which is extremely proud of its choir.
The other is open to the public and is fondly awaited by the members of the choir who can show the outside world the outcome of their journey.
The activity of the choir, conducted by Maestro Michele Napolitano, doesn't have an end in itself. Many volunteer members participate in rehearsals too who socialise and keep in touch with the detainees. It often happens that the volunteers become fundamental for the detainees when they leave the prison and try to rebuild their lives.
In 2015, the Association has chosen to only have an educational focus. Two new needs arose: on one hand, the will of the more expert members to perfect their vocal technique; on the other hand, the need to create a preparatory course to teach the fundamental rules of choral music to the newcomers.
This is the reason why Mozart14 has realised a course of music literacy and vocal technique, which started in January 2015. Thus, the detainees join the singing part to the study of the technique.
The members of the choir are very different. Some of them are “historical”, they are passionate about the choir and have been taking part in it for multiple years because of their long imprisonment. Every year some members are released from prison and others come in. The experience is more than peculiar to the newcomers. The detainees come to their first rehersals dragged by already members. Singing in a choir is something they have never experienced. Often they do not know music and underestimate its power. Slowly, instead, they become involved and try to find their place in the world: for a few hours that place is among bass, tenors, contraltos and sopranos. Learning to listen to other voices and to one's own is the most difficult challenge. Both in singing and in life.