Homeless and displaced people are one of the most marginalized communities in our society. Within classical music culture this is particularly apparent. Inside the concert hall, homeless people are persona non grata. However, they are certainly in need of the gift of music, which has the capacity to restore dignity and beauty to every human’s experience.
Since writing “Making a Musical Difference” a month ago, I connected with St. Francis Center in Denver. St. Francis offers a safe haven, day services, and employment programs for homeless people who congregate on the 16th Street Mall and surrounding parks in downtown Denver. The local non-profit “provides a place for transformation,” welcoming between 700 people on an average day and up to 900 on their busier days.
On Wednesday, I gave my first official performance at St. Francis. While many of the guests don’t have much exposure to classical music, they received my performance graciously, expressing their appreciation through scattered applause and words of thanks. I believe, given time, music will work its restorative magic.
I look forward to performing bi-weekly at St. Francis Center throughout the summer. I believe that music can transform lives, offering hope, beauty and dignity to those whom our society often overlooks. I am reminded of the words of Peter Maurin: “Modern society calls the beggar “bum” and “panhandler” and gives him the bum’s rush. But the Greeks used to say that people in need are the ambassadors of the gods.”