As the evening twilight grew darker, the beauty of the Creator was on full display. Renowned composer Eric Genuis, along with a small team of exceptionally talented musicians, performed some of his original compositions at St. Vincent de Paul Parish for a second year in a row on May 5. With themes of redemption, hope and humanity, Genuis’ music aims to elevate the humanity of his listeners through beauty.
Founder of Concerts for Hope, a small nonprofit, Genuis primarily tours the world with a small ensemble playing his original compositions for inmates in prisons. “I go into these prisons to expose these kids to music and beauty that uplifts their humanity,” said Genuis. “I believe beauty matters. You give a civilization beauty, you get hope, excitement and life.”
“He enters these places that don’t have a lot of beauty and there’s a lot of darkness,” said Kelly Brouillette, Director of Communications and Marriage Preparation at St. Vincent de Paul. “A lot of the prisoners have never heard live music, certainly not like this, before… He brings beauty and light into prisons, into these dark places.”
This beauty elevates the humanity of the listeners so powerfully that one inmate once stood up and exclaimed, “I forgot what hope feels like!”
“Our Lord created us with such a sense of awe and wonder,” Genuis said. “The awe and wonder of what you can create…. And the awe and wonder in these kids is snuffed out already, at 10 years old. I won’t accept that!”
Genuis also brings these hope-filled concerts that he plays in prisons beyond the barbed wire and guards into the rest of the world, playing at parishes, youth homes and even in the homes of the likes of Jim Caviezel, Blake Shelton, Mel Gibson, and Oprah. “I play this same concert you’re hearing tonight in the prisons and for these celebrities,” Genuis told his audience at St. Vincent’s.
“Art elevates the human condition,” Genuis said of the importance of this work in prisons and in the world. “It transcends that which is imperfect and points to what is perfect. And we’re in that, we’re associated with that. There’s such a dignity to the human condition. Humanity is beautiful! Not ‘I should be this, I should be that.’ We should never question our dignity. There is this elevated, unapproachable dignity… it’s beautiful! We can’t earn it or buy it. It’s a gift and I have to accept it.”
The second year in a row that St. Vincent’s has hosted this concert, his audience certainly left elevated and filled with hope after their encounter with beauty and their own dignity.
“Eric’s music just opened up a part of my heart that I didn’t even know needed some light in it,” said Madalyn Katz, one of the concertgoers. “I was moved emotionally constantly throughout his performance. I feel like I just spent an hour and a half crying because it was just so beautiful! I feel like the Lord was very intentional about bringing me here to use Eric’s gifts to open my heart even more.”
“He is phenomenal! It was an amazing night, an incredible night of music,” echoed Brouillette. “I was in awe — way exceeded my expectations! After last year’s concert, everyone asked to have him come back because the show was amazing. People were telling me ‘If I had known it would be this good, I would have brought my friends and neighbors!’”
Even as these reviews had just begun to pour in and the applause had concluded, Genuis reminded his audience of the ultimate purpose of his work and, indeed, of the Christian life: “God is pursuing you. Perfect love is pursuing you.”
To learn more about Eric Genuis, Concerts for Hope, and to listen to his compositions, visit ericgenuis.com.