Music Composition Winners

Thank you and Congratulations to the following students for their winning music submissions  to the first-ever Summit Original Music Composition Contest

Ross Johnson and Carter Santini

AK Alilonu

Jack Rose

Max Fees

Please view their process and purpose of their music in light of the Summit topic of Restorative Justice. Enjoy the great music!


Max Fees

  • “Mend the Seams”
    • Audio file:
    • This is my song titled “To Mend the Seams”. I focused on the journey both parties take when striving to find restorative justice to make each other whole again and fix each others ‘brokenness”. The line “I’m broken, just for this moment” is repeated though the song and it is meant to say that through restorative justice we can be made whole again. I hadn’t set out with the intention of writing lyrics but they seemed fitting and relatively free form to support what was going on sonically. The final product was just my voice and acoustic guitar much smaller and more intimate than i had set out to accomplish but seemed fitting because of the intimacy of the mediation sessions we learned about throughout the summit. The song is written in 3/4 time at a relatively slow tempo to “drag” the song forward.  Restorative justice is not easy to accomplish and I wanted to display the journey that it can take you on. I hope you enjoy and found you could connect with something in the song.
    • Comments from Judges – This song has an intensity of sadness in the beginning that gives way to a soulful pleading. The beat provides a sense of urgency for the person to be at peace and make an exit from feeling broken. The idea of “tattered souls” and the justice cry of “don’t leave me” expresses the challenges of the current criminal justice system.

Ross Johnson and Carter Santini

  • “World in Color” (instrumental/choral)
    • Audio file:
    • The tones used in this song are very mellow. It opens in c major, but the verses use a lot of minor chords to bring about a dark sound. the chorus then blossoms into a beautiful ballad with the melody played by a classical guitar. The song starts out dark and sad as a reminder that our prison system is broken with many faults and fissures. The chorus becomes more upbeat and shows that there is hope for reform and restorative justice. I hope this helps the listener conjure thoughts and images of prison life and a way to fix it. I was inspired by the ex-inmate to create this piece. His story and journey through the prison system into a successful life was simply beautiful.
    • Comments from Judges – This instrumental grabs you with immediate sounds of gratitude, a bobbing guitar that suggests friendly intimacy. The chord progression suggests a life not taken for granted and hunger to return to simple pleasures. The voices intone the idea of simple pleasures and an appreciation for what really matters – love, relationship, and reconciliation where it is needed. A Beatles-esque soundtrack for any individual’s realization about their true self.

AK Alilonu

  • “Break Out” (instrumental)
    • Audio file:
    • I’ve seen three Brophy Summits so far, and what I’ve come to believe about them is that they exist to bring to light some hidden wrong, some pernicious aberration in a world where we more often than not experience justice. When the irregularity that is perpetual poverty, or racial discrimination, or a broken prison system is brought to light, I and many others get frustrated. A combination of perfectionism and manly wecanfixitism inspires many to battle viciously for what’s right.
      While I could have written a mellow song full of tears for forgotten Americans, I didn’t. The melody borrows from “Jailhouse Blues”, but instead of communicating self-pity, my song calls to an oppressive society to let the inevitable occur and allow peace and justice to break out from where evil has caged it. There’s some poetry that goes with the song, but I’m not much of a singer, so it’s not included. While my work might not have abolished private prisons, it is a call to action.
    • Comments from the Judges – This song builds up into a lovely confusion of sounds. The diversity of sounds, rhythms, and levels create a noise that overshadows a “breathing”. The listener then continues to hunt for that breathing as new sounds wash over it. The loud, misleading, and sudden blasts do not break the consistency of breath…life. Eventually, the other tunes give up, recognizing they cannot defeat what is most valuable…breath. The song begs the listener to know the violence but never succumb to it.

Jack Rose

  • B548602
    • Audio file:
    • I wrote a song related to the summit. It’s about a 100 year old man who is serving life in prison for a murder at 16, and is okay with his sentencing, it just kills him that he has never been forgiven by anyone. He isn’t worried about death or going to hell, he just wants compassion, his humanity back.
    • LYRICS

      Jailer what’s your christian name

      What does your mother call you

      I forgot my christian name

      But now I’m inmate B548602

      I have four friends that I call walls

      They’ve seen me cry and seen me bleed

      I forgot when I stopped getting calls

      But with friends like mine what else could I need

      I hope the man I killed is free (Please forgive me)

      I hope his family’s at peace (I swear to god)

      I can’t imagine what they think of me (burn in hell)

      Does God forgive a man for sins made at sixteen

      I’m not worried about Lucy below (couldn’t be much worse)

      When I die I know the first place I’ll go (please forgive me)

      Don’t mind the cage but my heart just isn’t free (because)

      It’s been 83 years and no ones forgiven me

      I’m still a man, I have a heart, I have a soul

      It may be damned but it’s still no lump of coal

      Have I lost the right to sing my song to you

      Or should my lyrics turn to numbers so you can forget them too

    • Comments from Judges – This tune is a ballad of a man succeeding at being real about his circumstances. It has a “matter of fact” movement about it. The prisoner sounds full of answers about the afterlife, something he has not seen, but cannot get satisfaction in this life because forgiveness has been withheld. The only thing after 100 years he worries about is still being dismissed and losing his right to be heard.

Summit – Original Music Composition Contest

Broncos – especially you musicians!

Though there is more to come with the Summit on Human Dignity, we hope, by now, something, someone, some topic has truly raised questions in you, inspired you to act, helped you to recognize the challenges of human dignity in the criminal justice system and the strength of a restorative alternative.

This year, we are asking for musicians to compose original works that focus attention on one particular issue raised by our Summit on Restorative Justice. A workshop topic? A particular set of statistics you found disturbing? A new idea for the system? A personal struggle or story you heard?

Please click the link below for contest details: