20th June 2011

This year, Eurochips’ GA and conference were held in Barcelona where, over a sunny weekend that left little time for sleep, around 30 Eurochips members and staff crammed in as much formal agenda, informal networking, sight-seeing and tapas-eating as possible, around the extensive programme of activities organised for us by Elias and the team from Ninos sin barreras. As with Oslo in 2010, the programme included a conference (see other newsletter article) aimed at a wider audience than just members of Eurochips, the Eurochips General Assembly and a prison visit.

We were treated to a delicious conference dinner in the amazing surrounds of the Museu Picasso. For the GA, we headed out into the hills above Barcelona to a house recently renovated by Ninos sin barreras for prisoners to stay in with their children on temporary home release – an impressive venture which has the potential to really help prisoners rebuild relations with their children in a positive environment. Sunday we headed out of town again, this time to a relatively new, large prison housing around 1,000 men and 350 women.

However this was no ordinary prison visit – we were ushered into a large hall where some 500 prisoners and a Steinway piano were waiting. We knew we were coming to hear a ‘concert’ but I don’t think any of us quite expected to hear the quality of music which we were treated courtesy of the pianist Elizabeth Sombart (who flew in especially from Geneva) and Resonnance Espana: a full Chopin piano concerto, followed by a wonderfully descriptive performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Woolf. The orchestra was specially put together for the event but hope to carry on playing music for those whose access to it is limited.

It was clear from the audience response, that it was truly appreciated. All in all it was a fabulous and stimulating program and I am certainly looking forward to Eurochips General Assembly in 2012!

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Author: rmchristen