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Concerts Inside

Ex-inmate Carl Cattermole explores the power of concerts that have taken place in jails, from John Martyn via Olivier Messiaen to the Sex Pistols.

Ex-inmate Carl Cattermole explores the power of concerts that have taken place in jails.

Music lover Carl recently served an 18-month prison sentence. While inside, he found solace by listening to music through his headphones - but never had the experience of listening to music with others. He was aware that, over the years, several concerts have taken place inside prisons and so, on release, he set out to find out about these musical events – discovering how the communal experience of prison concerts can transform lives.

Ex-offender Erwin James talks about folk singer John Martyn’s performances at Long Lartin jail - and the effect that concert had on some the UK’s most hardened criminals.

Writer Ivan Hewett relays the story of Olivier Messiaen composing his Quartet for the End of Time during his incarceration in a prisoner of war camp in Silesia.

Music journalist John Ingham recalls the time in 1976 when he accompanied the Sex Pistols into Chelmsford Maximum Security Prison, where the band played a gig for 50 inmates on a hot sunny afternoon.

Finally, musician George Caird tells Carl about the time Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears went into Wormwood Scrubs on 11th July 1943 to perform for the prisoners there. The inmates included their great friend Michael Tippett, who was serving a three-month sentence for being a conscientious objector.

Presenter: Carl Cattermole
Producer Rosie Boulton
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Sat 27 Jul 2019 15:30


  • Thu 9 May 2019 11:30
  • Sat 27 Jul 2019 15:30