As a master Latvian violinist, Gidon Kremer, performed Chaconne by Bach and Preludes to a Lost Time by Weinberg, his audience was captivated – and rewarded him with a standing ovation. However, this wasn’t a typical performance in a lavish concert hall. It was held at a gymnasium at British Columbia and attended solely by inmates.
The 72-year-old violinist said that he was deeply touched by just how enthusiastic and attentive the inmates were as an audience.
How the Event Was Organized
The concert that took place in the Pacific Institution in Abbotsford was put together by the Looking at the Stars Foundation. This charitable organization is based in Toronto and was founded by a Lithuanian refugee, Dimitri Kanovich.
Specializing in organizing such performances for audiences that can’t access music halls and theaters, the foundation managed to host 37 similar performances in over 15 Canadian prisons throughout the span of four years. To ensure safety, the inmates were thoroughly searched by guards and a sniffing dog and received a heartfelt welcome from Kanovich himself.
How the Audience Felt About the Violinist
During the performance that lasted an hour, the audience was enamored and listened attentively as Kremer played classical pieces on his 379-year-old Amati violin. Once the performance was done, the inmates had time to ask the violinist a few questions. They were interested in hearing his thoughts about famous composers, who his antique violin used to belong to, how old he was when he began playing, and much more.
The inmates expressed their gratitude for his heartwarming performance, which ended with a standing ovation.
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, with the help of their president, Angela Elster, was a production partner for the event. The Orchestra plans to work with Corrections Canada on starting a program that will reunite inmates with instruments they used to play, encouraging their love of music to persevere and grow. The master violinist, Kremer, was happy that he had the opportunity to perform for this audience and believes that music can give warmth to anyone facing difficult times.