Today is the memorial of St. Cecilia, the patron of music and musicians. In honor of her and of the healing and ennobling power of music, The Catholic Catalogue recommends a documentary film called “Conducting Hope.” We think it does the good saint proud.
Millions of Americans are incarcerated, about 2.3 million. More than half of the inmates who are released from prison will return. But, at Lansing Correctional Facility, located an hour outside Kansas City, Kansas, lives are being changed by music. Inmates who are in prison for crimes ranging from drug manufacture to theft to murder gather under the direction of a volunteer opera-singer-turned-government-IT-expert to learn to sing choral music. Some of the men already know how to read music or play instruments. Others’ experience of making music is limited to turning on the radio. But, everyone who wants to join the prison’s East Hill Singers is welcome. And the rate of recidivism for those inmate choir members who leave prison? It’s around 18%, or some 32% percent lower than the national average.
Check your local PBS station for “Conducting Hope,” a documentary directed by David Grabias, that follows the choir and their conductor, Kirk Carson, as the singers prepare for a concert, and then perform the concert, at a local church.
And, since it is St. Cecilia’s day, be sure to sing a song today: in the car, in the shower, or in the kitchen while you cook. Sing praise.