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The transformational power of music

11 Dec 2017

New York’s Carnegie Hall needs no introduction, but the transformational work that the famous music hall does with men in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility just might. For nearly ten years, men incarcerated at the maximum security facility have created and performed music side-by-side with visiting artist facilitators from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.  

The facilitators lead workshops focusing on developing composition and instrumental skills and hold concerts for the facility’s general population that feature original works written and performed by participants. Past participants regularly meet to support each other, inform the program and continue to make music. 

Michael Bretholz from Macquarie’s New York office has been involved with the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall for several years as a member of the Carnegie Hall Notables Steering Committee. 

“Music enables program participants to express themselves and direct their energy in a positive way,” says Michael. “Feedback from the program is overwhelmingly positive. The program has had a truly transformational effect on the lives of the participants, in some cases even supporting parole applications.” 

When Michael joined Macquarie in 2016, he was impressed and inspired by how committed staff was about giving back to their communities, and the support and encouragement they received from the Macquarie Group Foundation. 

In preparation for Foundation Week, Michael connected with his colleague, Bethany Andries to organize an event to support the Weill Music Institute’s Social Impact work. Bethany has been highly involved in the New York Community Advisory Committee for several years so when Michael brought the idea to her, she didn’t hesitate to champion this initiative. 

“When we heard about the way the Musical Connections program at Sing Sing is helping to rehabilitate participants, we wanted to see what we could do to help,” says Bethany. 

During Foundation Week staff organized a fundraising evening called ‘Music and Merlot,’ which included a live performance of original works by past participants from the Sing Sing Correctional program. One participant, Rob, spoke between songs about the inspiration behind his music, and the profound impact the program has had on him and fellow participants at Sing Sing. 

“Instead of stuffy, we got real; instead of taking, we all gave of ourselves. I am so grateful for Macquarie's warmth, humanity, and support for programs like those that helped me." 

Music and Merlot raised over $125,000, after matching from the Macquarie Group Foundation. 

“We were thrilled to have such incredible support from staff for our event. We are passionate about this work, and we’re proud to be able to support it,” says Ange Burt, Macquarie’s Americas Chief Operating Officer. 

Image caption: Performers at the Music and Merlot fundraiser