San Quentin News
Inmate pianists and guitarists performed in a recital: Dancing with the Keys plus Bach, Beethoven and The Blues.
San Quentin State Prison’s Catholic Chapel hosted the March 20 event for about 45 inmates and outside guests as students from the Arts-in-Corrections piano and guitar class displayed their talents.
“Most students didn’t read music when we started,” said guitar instructor Kurt Huget.
Huget’s guitar class performed a wide assortment of music by Bach and Beethoven, plus Brazilian songs, blues and rock. “It’s gone beyond my wildest dreams,” he said.
Huget has been teaching guitar sheet music to the men of San Quentin on Thursdays for eight years. This was the first recital for Huget’s guitar class.
Thomas Washington, Walter Watson, Manuel Miranda and Kevin D. Sawyer were the performing guitarists.
When some individuals struggled during their performance, the crowd cheered encouragement until they completed the song. No one gave up, drawing inspiration from a very supportive audience.
Inmate Dwight Krizman, who is not in either class, played drums to back up other musicians. He also worked the sound for the recital.
“It was an incredible effort on each of the students’ behalf,” said Krizman. “What I found most amazing was the camaraderie.”
Richard “Richie” Morris attended the recital to support his fellow musicians. He plays guitar and used to attend Huget’s class regularly.
“I really enjoyed that it was cool and very casual,” said Morris. “I thought the interaction between the crowd and people performing was entertaining.”
“I was really proud of everybody. We worked hard,” said Huget.
Huget said he would like to do another recital. “It was very successful, I thought.”
Many of the men who performed have little experience playing in front of a live audience.
“It’s not about perfection; it’s about putting the time and work in,” said piano instructor Patricia “Trish” Allred. “The more you play in front of people, the better you get.”
Allred accompanied Phil Melendez performing “Come Home” by One Republic and Noble Butler on “Hello,” by Greg Kurstin and Adele.
Allred had a few hours before the recital to get acquainted with both songs.
“Prelude in C” written by Johann Sebastian Bach was performed as a piano ensemble by Matthew Jaspar, JulianGlenn Padgett, Gino Sevacos and Robert Tyler.
“I’ve listened to Gino play guitar and piano for a few years. This was by far his best performance,” said Sawyer, who attends both guitar and piano classes. “It helps that Trish pushes us to color our compositions with what we learn in her class.”
Allred has been teaching piano classes on Sunday afternoons for a little more than three years. This was the third recital for her classes.
“I was incredibly proud of all of them,” said Allred, adding the performances were “fantastic.”
The guitar class played in unison:
Individual piano performances: