Chicago Symphony Orchestra
In April 2013, Sara Lee and Nick Hayes boarded transatlantic flights heading for Chicago. The Trust had been invited to collaborate with musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) to share our considerable expertise of working with prisoners. This turned out to be the start of a collaboration that has taken place in Spring every year since 2013. You can find out more about the CSO partnership with the Trust and their community projects here.
In the first project, Sara and Nick showed CSO oboist Lora Schaefer and double-bass player Daniel Armstrong the well-honed Music in Prisons approach, working with a group of young men at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Centre to create a set of original new songs and work towards a performance in just six days (a day more than usual!). A small ensemble from the CSO joined the band for the last two days, providing a specially orchestrated accompaniment composed by Nick to complement the four songs written by the group.
The band gave two special performances, with audiences including family members and CSO Music Director, conductor Riccardo Muti. Speaking after the emotional performance, Muti addressed the young men:
You can listen to a short radio piece about the 2013 project here.
Sara and Nick were invited to return in March 2014 to work again with the CSO in Chicago and at Carnegie Hall in New York. You can read Sara’s blog updates from the 2014 project here.
After the second project, Sara’s annual postcards from Chicago became something of a tradition (2015, 2016, 2017.) Listen to the track ‘Change Me’ from the 2016 project, recorded with lads from the Illinois Youth Centre Chicago, on SoundCloud.
On the recent 2017 project, the Irene Taylor Trust collaborated with Civic Fellows from the Chicago Civic Orchestra alongside their longstanding partners the CSO on a project with young men at the IYCC. You can read Fellow Patrick Tsuji’s reflections on the experience here.