Live Classical Chamber Music Brings Dignity, Creativity, and Passion to Boston Homeless Shelters!
Homeless shelters can be chaotic, squalid, and lonely. As well as food and a bed, shelter guests need respect, dignity, creative interaction, mental and emotional connection, and opportunities to respond to passion and creativity in the shelter. These will engender desperately needed hope.
Shelter Music Boston performs monthly live classical chamber music concerts, to the highest artistic standards, in four Boston homeless shelters, including the Shattuck Shelter, Pine Street Inn, Boston Healthcare for Homeless Program, and the Dimock Center. Concerts, performed by either a violin/viola duo or a two violin/viola trio, reach up to one hundred shelter guests per month.
Programs have included the jaunty Madrigals of Bohuslav Martinu, the elegant duo in G major of Mozart, flashy fiddling music of Mark O’Connor, complex harmonies of Leclair, a nostalgic suite by Peter Schickele, music for solo violin of Corelli, Telemann, and Ysaye; tangos, sea chanteys, a bubbly Bulgarian folk tune, Halloween fare such as Saint Saens Dance Macabre and at Christmastime the Corelli Christmas Concerto, Trepak from Nutcracker, excerpts from Handel’s Messiah and carols with singing!
Homeless shelters are chaotic and fraught with conflict. Shelter Music Boston concerts provide a rare opportunity for guests and staff to be together as community members equal to one another. Between pieces on each concert and after performances the guests converse with the musicians, often with great passion, about myriad emotions and elaborate scenes the music inspires. Social hierarchies are suspended as audience and performers are drawn together by the music. SMB musicians dress informally for all concerts. Mutual respect and a sense of community emerge. For homeless people, whose lives are often defined by anonymity, humiliation, and loss of dignity, SMB concerts offer respite, creativity, and a rare chance for respectful interaction in which the focus is removed from guests’ own problems.
Responses to SMB concerts include interactive engagement (homeless guests respond to the music verbally and in writing), emotional well-being (guests report feelings of calm, happiness, and even their souls being soothed), physical well-being (staff report fewer fights in the shelters; guests sleeping better after a concert), and increased client empowerment (guests take steps forward to improve their lives).
One guest with schizophrenia who had not interacted with anyone during two years at the shelter began speaking to his counselors about classical music after an SMB concert; ensuing conversations have laid the groundwork for this gentleman to take medication that may address his unstable mental health.
Another guest with a history of substance abuse told us that our music made her feel calm, and that she now plans to use music as a tool for managing her stress and difficult emotions.
Finally, on a sweltering summer evening in August 2010 a gentleman in the Shattuck Shelter said, “When you play, I know it ain’t over. Your playing makes me feel alive. The music gives me hope.”
It is an honor to nurture the souls of homeless shelter guests with great classical music and to bring hope to those in need by playing the violin.
More About This Charity
Hunger and Poverty Relief
Shelter Music Boston
Shelter Music Boston presents classical chamber music concerts, of the highest artistic standards, in homeless shelters. These performances promote community, creative interaction, respect, and therapeutic benefit for shelter guests. We believe everyone deserves access to the dignity, creativity, and passion of classical music whether or not they have a home.
- This charity raised $15,000 in the past year
- This Achievement helped 900 people
- This charity helped 600 people in the past year