Cultivating Communities of Caring: Choral Singing in Prisons

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, the Calvin Prison Initiative, and the Calvin College Music Department invite you to a lecture given by Dr. Mary Cohen. Dr. Cohen is an expert in the field of arts in prisons and leads a ground-breaking ensemble in Iowa City called the Oakdale Community Choir that combines inmates with volunteers who make music together.


Thursday, February 28, 2019 from 12:30PM to 1:30PM


Calvin College Recital Hall, Covenant Fine Arts Center
Grand Rapids, Michigan


The setting is the auditorium of a medium-security prison. A choir made up of men and women of varying ages are singing a concert for inmates. They sing original songs, written by members of the choir, as well as others’ compositions, on themes of healing, hope, community, and transformation. The premise doesn’t seem unusual, until I tell you that half of this choir are members of the community outside the prison, and the other half live here, inmates themselves of the Oakdale Prison, and some of them are the composers of the songs being sung. See this documentary about the choir.  Learn about the Inside Singers. 

If you are interested in the ways that choral singing can bring transformation to people’s lives, then you want to make sure to hear the director and founder of this choir, Dr. Mary Cohen.