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:
- Minuet in G, by Johann Sebastian Bach
- Ode to Joy, by Ludwig Van Beethoven
- Simple Gifts, by Joseph Brackett
- Girl from Ipanema, by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, and Norman Gimbel;
- Vocals – Thomas Washington; Guitar Solo – Kevin D. Sawyer.
- On Broadway, by Barry Mann, Cynthia Well, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; Vocals – Thomas Washington.
- Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down and Out), by Jimmy Cox; Vocals – Walter Watson.
- Come Together, by The Beatles; Vocals – Walter Watson.
- Black Magic Woman, by Peter Green; Vocals – Thomas Washington; Guitar Solo – Kevin D. Sawyer.
- Star-Spangled Banner, by John Stafford Smith.
Individual piano performances:
- Planet Love, Words and Music by Gino Sevacos; performed by Gino Sevacos.
- Largo, by Antonin Dvorak; performed by Byron Prudhomme
- Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, performed by Joey Barnes.
- No. 12 Bouree, by Bach; performed by Salvador Solorio.
- Today is the Day, by the Bar-Kays, Walkin’ Away, by Kevin D. Sawyer, Again, by Janet Jackson,
- Your Daddy Loves You, by Gil Scott-Heron, and Easy, by Lionel Ritchie; original medley performed
- by Kevin D. Sawyer.
- Lean On Me, by Bill Withers; performed by Yancy Andress.
- The Scientist, by Guy Barryman, Jon Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin; performed
by Julian Glenn Padgett.
- Hello, by Greg Kurstin and Adele; performed by Noble Butler.
- Come Home by One Republic, performed by Phil Melendez.
- Moonlight Sonata, by Beethoven, performed by Robert Tyler.
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow, music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg; Draw Me Close To You, by
Kelly Carpenter; performed by Matthew Jaspar. He also played the bass to back up other musicians,
who performed songs accompanied by a band.