© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra teaches music in prison

Lucy Thomson
CSO leads group 22
CSO leads group of inmates Carolyn Murgatroyd

The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra is hitting all the right notes after a programme trialled at Christchurch Men's Prison received positive feedback.

The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have been bringing orchestral music to a number of Cantabrians for the past couple of years through their award-winning Community Engagement Programme.

This year organisers decided to adapt the original model and trial the programme in the Youth Unit at Christchurch Men’s Prison in an attempt to provide inmates with an opportunity to engage with others and embrace challenge.

The week-long programme offered the chance for twelve 17-20 year-old inmates to work with three CSO musicians to learn and master several new skills before graduating at the conclusion of the programme.

Corrections say programmes such as these are vital in prisons to help inmates develop lifeskills and prepare them for re-integration.

CSO Community Engagement Manager, Cathy Irons, said the programme was aimed to bring the inmates joy as well show them what they can achieve.

"I hope [the inmates] realise they can try something new, and when they apply themselves they can achieve something," Irons said.

Irons said at the beginning of the week she noticed some apprehension among the inmates but by the end of the programme both parties were in support of it's return.

"I think it was a great success and am very hopeful we can organise something like this again," Irons said.