Kerr in Scotland loves his new Abell whistle!
A project of Keowee Chamber Music
Going into the shelter, I did not know at all what to expect. I was surprised to see that the front room was already full of expectant men, waiting for their required 6 o’clock chapel time. The room was poorly lit and hot, but, as I reminded myself numerous times during the night, such an incredible improvement over what it would have felt like if we were spending the night outside.
I felt distinctly privileged holding my bassoon in front of this group, knowing all of the good fortune and health I have had in life to get me this far.
After their minister gave a long announcement to the men about some undesirable activities going on, and a request that they give their respect and attention to the musicians, we dove into our introductions and music. It did not take me long to get comfortable playing and talking in front of them – their rough presence had at first made me feel embarrassingly sheepish. Luckily my musical friends, Kate and Barbara are full of light and wit, and it was easy to follow their lead.
Our combination of flute, bassoon, and keyboard was excellent and so much fun, and I’ve never felt a group of people listen as well as our audience that night. I’m sure the music was new to most of them. They were full of questions about the instruments, and some even voiced encouragement as I described my bassoon solo as a moment to feel like a rock star. “You go girl,” was heard off the side of the stage.
It started to feel like a celebration to me, and that our group was really bringing something powerful into the room – calling in a totally different feeling – a refreshing, validating feeling for these men.
We received wonderful applause and comments afterwards. I’ve not been greeted so enthusiastically after a performance before (except perhaps by my own Mom!). They invited us back to play anytime and commented that it really was a refreshing change to their day.
It was also great to hear some of them reminisce about their own experience with music and share that with us. I imagine they don’t always feel so excited to talk about those aspects of their lives.
I felt we helped transport them to a place beyond a homeless shelter; they were not really living through a dark time. I wish I could play there every day, because I came away feeling that we really did make a difference and that the pleasure we brought through our music was real, sustaining, validating, and a thing of pure pleasure for all involved.