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'Music In Detention?' people say. 'Brilliant idea: where did it come from?'

January 12, 2017

By Sue Lukes, Chair of Trustees at Hear Me Out

“Music In Detention?” people say. “Brilliant idea: where did it come from?” and the story is simple enough. MID started with a feasibility study and a grant from the Helen Tetlow Memorial Fund. Helen was a musician and teacher who cared about migrants, and the Fund (I was on the board) wanted a project that would reach the most disadvantaged migrants in Britain.

But just before we brainstormed what that could be, I went to the Royal Academy of Music, to give a short talk to introduce a concert given by Katia Chornik, who had written her masters about music in concentration camps and Chilean prisons. Like Katia I had connections to both. Maybe my grandparents heard the music of Terezin before they were deported to Auschwitz and their deaths. My daughters’ father certainly brought music with him into exile after 4 years in Pinochet’s prisons. In our house we had maybe six versions of Candombe para Jose, the song that prisoners sang to cheer each other up, allowed because it seemed to have little political content but valued because it spoke of the importance of friendship between people in difficult times and of how it is to be forgotten.

Photo by Jadson Thomas

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