“When in a choir, a person is always focused on how to connect their own voice with others'. So, listening to others is the basis of choral singing and, in general, of making music together. Learning to sing together means learning to listen to one another. The choir, as the orchestra, is the greatest expression of the basis of society: respect for each other in the mutual listening and generosity to make all we have available to others.” - Claudio Abbado
They come out in a line, all wearing the same PAPAGENO Choir t-shirt. Their pace is not hesitant but curious: it hides the desire to demonstrate something, both to themselves and to those who will listen to them. Massimo Ziccone, the education manager in the Dozza prison, tells that “to the members of the choir” the concert for detainees “is probably more important than the one open to the public.” And Michele Napolitano, Maestro of the Choir, thinks so too.
If you make a small effort, you will understand. Try and imagine the detainees, in their prison cells,
while they explain to other detainees why they put so much effort into singing in a choir. Think f how much time they spend explaining how important vocal exercises,reharsals, the music education course are. “What is the point of a choir in prison?” some detainee may ask, “What is the benefit?”. Maybe some female detainee could ask “Wouldn't you rather find a job to save money for your family?” These questions may come to everyone who heards about the choir. A bit of culture is ok, maybe some book donated to the detainees, but music is somethin else. How can you think about making music – and doing it well – in a prison?
You need to trust our eyes, as much as we trust the eyes of the detainees who watch and listen to the exclusive concert. When they see they fellow detainees singing irony becomes awe, awe becomes astonishment and astonishment becomes desire. Just one hour of singing takes everyone away from their thoughts or crimes. Everyone who participates knows that in that particular moment they are where their mind can take them. Joy powerfully takes everyone's heart and donates a sprinkle of peace.
Everytime you don't understand why we take music in a prison or why the PAPAGENO choir exists, think that at the end of the concert the members of the choir are satisfied, proud and happy. And a line of curious people springs up: “What should I do to partecipate?”