May 3, 2017 – A classical pianist from Canada, who now lives on a farm in Kentucky, is about to bring music to prison inmates in California.
Eric Genuis is the founder of Concerts for Hope, a nonprofit organization that produces concerts for people in prisons, patients in VA hospitals and residents of homeless shelters—“forgotten” people, as he calls them.
“As a society, we have become very comfortable with certain people being forgotten,” he said. “I work with top-shelf musicians to bring beauty into the lives of people who are suffering emotionally and physically.”
Genuis has recorded albums, scored movies and performed in concert halls around the world. But his Concerts for Hope give him the greatest personal satisfaction. Genuis often receives letters from inmates and their families, describing what his performances have meant.
“Prisons are among the ugliest places on earth,” Genuis said. “Inmates react strongly to beauty. When you immerse them in beauty, they look at life through glasses of hope and inspiration. If you remove that, they look at life through glasses of despair and discouragement.”
In addition to audiences themselves, Genius has received support and praise from celebrities including actors Kevin James and Jim Caviezel and former NFL star Matt Birk (Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings). (Side note: Genuis appeared in James’ movie “Paul Blart: Mall Cop II, as a pianist.)
Genuis recently finished a series of prison concerts in Texas. He is now preparing a California prison tour, starting at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, on May 14. He also plans to perform at High Desert State Prison in Susanville (May 15), Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga (May 16), California State Prison in Lancaster (May 17), California State Prison in Centinela (May 18 & 19), a private concert in San Diego (May 19) and Donovan State Prison in San Diego (May 20 and 21).
Joining Genuis for his California tour will be Simone Vitucci (a cellist, based in Los Angeles), Yongxiang Ren (a violinist, based in New York) and Cecily Gordon (a vocalist, based in Houston).
About Eric Genuis
Eric Genuis was born in Toronto, Ontario, and graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music with a degree in piano performance. His musical career began, when he was invited to perform at an AIDS benefit in Poland, for an audience of 15,000. He started touring the United States in 1997, and eventually moved to Denver, because of his love for skiing and hiking. Later, he and his family relocated to a farm close to Louisville, Kentucky, where his young daughter receives therapy from an acclaimed Down syndrome organization.
Information about Eric Genuis is available at www.EricGenuis.com and www.ConcertsForHope.net.
5 thoughts on “Musicians to Begin Statewide Prison Tour at Pelican Bay”
In light of some of the negative comments this article has received by some because of Eric’s outreach to prisoners, the timeless story of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo comes to mind. Many of those in prison grew up without opportunity, privilege or love, and the vast majority of the incarcerated will one day be released. When you treat someone like an animal, as the classic story portrayed, that is what you will get. But when you remind someone of their humanity even for a few moments through an experience of forgiveness like the good bishop from the story offered the ex-convict, or through an experience of beauty as this musician tries to bring into the ugliness of prison life, those in the prisons can experience a deeper sense of what it means to be truly human. If those of us on the outside of prisons begin to devalue the humanity of those on the inside, than the only thing that separates us from them is the conviction and the bars. We would share, then, the same root attitudes that put many of them into prison in the first place – the devaluation of human life. I applaud this musician and the mission of Concerts for Hope. Those who posted negative comments reveal certain attitudes deep in the heart of our society, something that this musician has an antidote for. Human beings, every one of us, no matter what stage we are in life, no matter the age, no matter how capable or incapable we are, no matter what we have done or can never do again, have an innate dignity that can never be erased. It is good for those of us on the outside of prison walls, nursing homes, veterans facilities, rehab centers, and everywhere else in our society to be reminded of this.
OMG AS THOUGH ZOO’S AND WAM WAM’S WERE NOT ENOUGH. Obviously this guy is on crack or some really good LSD. so we want to give murderers, child molesters, and serial killers some more R&R? yeah, what about the victims who will live on to endure the heinous crimes that destroyed their mind, body, and souls? why don’t you play music for them?
Pelican Bay State Prison administration has lost sight of what a prison is suppose to do. How are we punishing these butt wipes if they get free education, free music shows,free medical, dental, and vision, free to do nothing all day long but have a permanent recess. How does this prevent people from doing crime when they are sent to a prison that offers such amenities? oh and let us not forget the conjugal visits.
yep, prison, another way of life to get everything for free without paying anything so if and when they get out they get hired by google for 60,000.00 dollars per year…great deterrents don’t ya think?
This is the response from Lt. Jessica Berg at the Prison:
In response to your question, there are no costs associated with this event. All supervision will be done with staff that will already be working that day, as part of their daily duties. In addition; This event is part of an ecumenical religious services with the Catholic and Protestant population and several other religious volunteers will be in attendance to assist. The concert itself was a 100% donation.
Have to agree with you for a change. The pianist is a misguided liberal who is making himself FEEL GOOD by playing for these coddled inmates. If he wanted to make a difference, rather than a political statement, he would be playing at rest homes, and outdoor parks. By the way, you will never get RA time with a message like that….a joke of course. The admin wouldn’t hire you anyway.
This is great, and I hope that there can be more programs like this. Also, there is a new book entitled “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement” by Keramet Reiter (Yale University Press), The author is an assistant professor at University of California, Irvine.