Avenal State Prison (ASP) hosted a musical event featuring Yasha and Irina Konviser, Ukrainian violinist and vocalist. Both expressed how performing at ASP was a fulfilling experience. The musicians expressed how well staff and residents treated them.
Staff collaboration to coordinate the event included:
- Grigoriy Shapirshteyn, Chief of Mental Health
- Lisa Dobrozdravic, Senior Psychologist
- Amber Williams, Associate Warden
- and Lt. Jose Reyes, Public Information Officer.
Musicians bring incarcerated to their feet
Irina sang Spanish, French, and American songs, captivating the audience’s attention.
Yasha played the violin and included theatrics, playing the violin behind his back and in between his knees.
He played two violins simultaneously and then by the hand of one of the participants. Yasha prompted the participants to stand and dance and all were laughing, clapping, and singing.
An incarcerated member offered to play his guitar and perform a song he wrote himself. When Yasha caught his melody, he began to accompany his performance with his violin. The performance ended in a standing ovation by the audience. Many participants expressed their gratitude for the event and stated they would be thrilled with more events like this in the future.
ASP’s Mental Health Department recognizes the positive impact music can have on a resident’s rehabilitation and overall psychological health. This concert created a positive connection amongst the resident community. The incarcerated appreciated that people outside of the institution thought of them and brought this performance to them.
Story by Lisa Dobrozdravic, Senior Psychologist
Avenal State Prison