Prince Charles visited the iconic Dartmoor prison a couple of weeks ago to see part of a performance of Bizet’s opera Carmen by members of the Prison Choir Project.
The choir were joined by professional singers and musicians. The Prison Choir Project was started by Adam Green, a musician who came up with the idea for a prison choir project in January 2017. Adam then approached the Governor Bridie Oakes-Richard last March to see if a choir could be started at Dartmoor Prison. “By the end of the meeting with the Governor we had set a date in July for our first production which was Carmen by Bizet.
‘Around twenty prison inmates took part, but they also built and painted the set. They can really sing, they really can. I think they would stand up against any professional chorus.”
The aim of the project is to rehabilitate inmates through song and opera and reconnect with those in society that have been forgotten.
Adam, who has been singing in choirs at Cambridge University and was part of the famous St Bride’s Choir, Fleet Street went on to say: “We face a crisis in prisons, everyday a story of self-harm, rioting, drug and substance abuse, assaults on prisoners and staff and overcrowding hits the papers.
‘We are a good news story, a hope for a brighter future, an opportunity for those less fortunate than ourselves to build confidence and re-connect.
‘We will be returning to Dartmoor, the support from the prison staff, the governor and the inmates has all been so positive.
‘I would happily take these men from Dartmoor to sing on any stage in this country – I am pretty sure they would play to full houses.”
Other choir projects with the prisoners are planned for Dartmoor and new programmes for HMP Kirkham and Drake Hall.