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Prison Orchestra Gears Up for Performance

November 17, 2012|By Adam Pinsker | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In a place that can be lonely, a melody of redemption fills the air.

"I love them, I love music I love what it did for me."

Sarah Coffman is talking about the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center Women’s Orchestra.
The non-profit organization Arts on the Edge started the program in 2003.  It gave inmates like Coffman a chance to use music as therapy. 

Coffman entered the facility in 1997 after being convicted of 2nd degree murder and burglary, and completed her sentence in February.

She’s now a volunteer with Arts on the Edge, and will perform with some the very same inmates she served time with on December 8th.  The orchestra is putting on its annual holiday concert at the facility.


It will be Coffman’s first performance as a private citizen, and the last performance for Dana Hilbish, as an inmate at Hiland.

"I was granted parole and I'll be leaving in January, and this whole community that I talked about, I will miss them."

The road to learning string music was not easy for Coffman, Hilbish or the other inmates in the orchestra.  Some had never picked up an instrument.

“Most of them couldn't even read music,” said Orchestra founder Pati Crofut.  “I mean we're starting from ground zero, so it's really difficult, it's brought a number of women to tears."

Tears of joy for Coffman

"I look back on my past and it's like I'm looking at a different person, and adding art and culture to your life, can be nothing but good."

Tickets to the concert are $30.  There are two performances on the 8th, one at 12:30 P.M. and one at 3:30 P.M. at Hiland Correctional Center.

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