The Moving Arts Collective, with support from ArtHouse Jersey, launched their first international project with two special gigs at HM La Moye Prison on Friday 3 June attended by over 70 prisoners.
The five musicians had spent two days working and writing together and this was the premiere of their brand new work as part of The Sound Channels Residency visioned by art producer Aras Amiri, who also spoke for the first time publicly about her experience as a political prisoner in Iran.
The performances at the prison could only happen with the long and careful organisation and planning by the educational department of La Moye Prison, led by Sanja Koppen, demonstrating the determination and commitment needed for such initiatives.
Karen Le Roy Harris, one of the members of The Moving Arts Collective, recalled the day: “We were moved by the welcoming and emotional response of the prisoners, and this experience has stayed with us since.
“There is a history of musicians performing at prison. Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison album for example has had a long-lasting impact on the public and music industry. For most of us this was our first time in prison but the depth of this experience made us realise why such a connection between music and prison exists.”
Aras Amiri, producer of Sound Channels Residency, commented: “Art and sport can create alternative worlds and a different sense of time in prison. This essential and liberating role which they occupy in social life also becomes more palpable in prison. This testifies to the much needed support and further efforts to enable their access both in prison and other public spheres.”
The project brought together a diverse group of musicians: Esther Rose Parkes (singer-songwriter, based in Jersey), ‘OK BILBO Trio’ (Tom Schmidely – Guitar, Marin De Nattes – Bass Guitar, Léo Rodier – Drums based in France), and Omid Amiri (Saxophone, based in UK) whose musical background spans Funk, Fusion, Afrobeat, Free-Jazz, Groove, and Folk. The musicians all felt deeply moved by the experience.
Musician Esther Rose Parkes, said: “As visitors to HM La Moye Prison, the fundamental thing we did not share with the prisoners was freedom. Music can set us free in so many ways and has the ability to transcend walls and barriers.”