When Wilberg offered to teach the workshop, Aguirre was surprised. Even more so the next day, when he said Wilberg called to ask if he could teach a class regularly.
Wilberg conducted the first workshop in February. He said he was impressed by the inmates' desire and dedication to learning to perform music.
"I was a little nervous at first," he said. "I didn't know what to expect, but that first time I ... looked at all these inmates — I know they have had challenges in their lives — and to see them come together [to sing], I was moved by that."
Aguirre said the inmates love Wilberg — even though Wilberg works them much harder than they're used to.
Wilberg has taught the men's choir about once a week since Easter. He's not always able to make it in person, he said, and when he can't, he turns the class over to his co-director, Roland Pitt.
Pitt accompanied Wilberg's choir on the piano during the recital and closed the concert with a movement from Ludwig van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
Pitt, whom Wilberg described as "very talented," is an inmate. He also has a Ph.D.-level education in classical piano performance, plays the organ and a little string bass, and has taken up the violin in the past year or so.
The choir, Pitt said, provides his fellow inmates with a rare opportunity to set and work toward goals. Under his direction, the prison's choir had already established itself — something he said helped inspire Wilberg to continue with the group.
Pitt decided to teach music at the prison as a way to make up for his past mistakes. He said the choir provides a similar outlet for other inmates.
"It's a really good program to feel like they are contributing something back to the community," he said.