21 January 2020

HMP Warren Hill: Music-making on the inside

By Julie Webb Client Director

Lark Music’s support for music education has taken me to many interesting venues this year from tiny chapels on the Gower Peninsula in Wales to London’s Tower Bridge.

However, one of the most moving concerts was at a prison, HMP Warren Hill, in Suffolk, where Lark Music supports Snape Maltings’ music performance workshops.

The positive and healing power of music in rehabilitation was clear. One resident shared how he wrote a song about a memory that haunted him – calling his six-year-old son to tell him he would not be home for 12 years. John (his name for the sake of this blog) will be leaving prison in February when his son will be 18.

Another resident said he hadn’t picked up a guitar for 10 years but now he was hoping to carry on playing. The pleasure that being in part of a band was evident as he jammed with the band.

From ballades to rap and reggae, the words of songs were poignant with the themes of life, hope, honesty and ‘reconnection’ – and the audience were lifted onto their feet singing the choruses and dancing as the musicians and singers belted out original lyrics with such deep feeling.

Snape Maltings’ musicians sang alongside the residents – they had spent a week at Warren Hill practising for the concert, on top of their regular visits. Janice (a name for this blog), is a former Guildhall Music School singer and ‘Joe’ performs on the West End stage. These talented young people both said that working with the residents ‘brings them absolute joy’.

Governor Matthew Deal welcomed guests to HMP Warren Hill and said how ‘proud’ he felt of the performers. He said: “We are so delighted to host this event and so proud of the residents’ performances. It is not easy to do this in front of a large audience.

“We are a Category C prison with about 250 residents and our work with the local community makes a big difference in our residents’ personal development.

“We are particularly grateful to Snape Maltings for supporting our year-round Criminal Justice Programme.”