Emily Howe, Jamie Hillman, Andre de Quadros
Boston University, MA
Emily Howe is a conductor, music educator and accompanist. A faculty member at Boston University’s Prison Education Program, Howe’s work co-designing a music curriculum at the Framingham Women’s Prison earned her the distinction of Prison Arts Scholar. Howe holds a degree in choral conducting from Boston University, where she also conducts the 60-voice Choral Society and its select ensemble, the Chamber Singers.
Gordon College, MA
Jamie Hillman is a multi-faceted musician who is active as a singer, pianist, conductor, music educator and composer. He is an Assistant Professor of Music at Gordon College (Wenham, MA), where he teaches Undergraduate and Graduate Music Education. As a Boston University Prison Arts Scholar and faculty member of BU’s Metropolitan College Prison Education Program, he has co-initiated the music program at the Norfolk (MA) prison.
André de Quadros
Boston University, MA
André de Quadros is a conductor, ethnomusicologist, music educator and human rights activist who has conducted and undertaken research in over forty countries. He is currently a professor of music at Boston University, where he also holds affiliate positions in the African Studies Center, the Center for the Study of Asia, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations and the Prison Education Program.
Talk Title: Freedom is Coming: African-American Spirituals in Prison
The presenters, who have initiated curricular music programs in two Massachusetts prisons within Boston University’s Prison Education Program, will share how singing, discussing and writing about the African-American spiritual has had a profound impact on the incarcerated men and women with whom they work. The timeless themes that are captured in the spiritual – suffering, redemption, consolation, hope, and freedom – deeply resonate with the prisoner-students. Moreover, the spirituals’ melodic simplicity, structural repetition and unstudied beauty allow even musically inexperienced students to sing, to improvise and build confidence in their own voices and the collective voice of the ensemble. Engaging in creative work that is inspired by the words, music and historical context of the spiritual has served as a non-threatening way for the inmates (many of whom are African-American) to address their own struggles and triumphs, as well as the injustices of the prison system. In their session, the presenters will speak about the enduring legacy of the African-American spiritual and advocate for its continued relevance as an instrument of personal and social transformation.