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Music Returns to Rikers Island

Musicambia brought a three-day composition workshop to the Anna M. Kross Center (AMKC)

Residents of AMKC produced and performed five songs that celebrated their experiences and perspectives


Music on Rikers

East Elmhurst, NY – The City’s Department of Correction hosted a three-day music program by Musicambia, an organization that uses the power of music to build supportive communities for incarcerated people. The workshop represents a gradual resumption of music programming that had been limited due to COVID-19 precautions and DOC staffing situation.

“Services are essential to a safe supportive environment and having an organization like Musicambia come back to Rikers to promote expression and beauty in our facilities is quite literally, music to my ears,” said Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi.

"Last week, Musicambia faculty members Brad Balliett, Patricia Santos, and Jeremy Jordan ran a three-day songwriting workshop with veterans on Rikers Island,” said Musicambia’s Executive Director Jessie Kilguss and Founder/Artistic Director Nathan Schram. “Participants were deeply engaged in the workshops and brought all their energy and talent to the songwriting process. This was our first in-person workshop at Rikers Island. We’re aiming to provide more programming there in early 2022. We’re grateful to Tommy Demenkoff and his entire team at Rikers for the support!”

The program took place in the day room of a housing unit at the Anna M. Kross Center. The individuals in the program—who had various levels of musical capability—collaborated to compose and perform five songs that celebrated their experiences and stories.

Twelve people participated over several days in early December.

“Having this program brought some people together who would not have been considered band members,” a Musicambia student at Rikers said. “But when music comes, it brings us together, the anger melts away, the color barriers disappear, stereotypical names fade away, and for that alone, it made the three days enjoyable. We actually developed a friendship that will never be forgotten.”



About the Department of Correction

The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment while providing individuals in our care with a path to successfully re-enter their communities. The Department provides for the care and custody of people ordered held by the courts and awaiting trial or who are convicted and sentenced to one year or less of jail time. DOC manages 8 facilities housing people in custody, 7 of which are located on Rikers Island. The Department also operates two hospital wards (Bellevue and Elmhurst hospitals) and court facilities in each borough. Our dedicated workforce of both uniformed and non-uniformed staff members represents the city’s Boldest.

About Musicambia

Musicambia uses the power of music to build supportive communities where incarcerated individuals can build human connections, engage in learning and rebuild their lives. Through performance and creation, participants develop self-confidence, positive self-image, and communication skills. By sharing their skills, musicians grow as teachers and citizens committed to humanizing our justice system.