The ability of music to reach out to and inspire people of all backgrounds and physical abilities is to be celebrated at a popular arts festival in Jersey. In a move which organisers are hoping will raise the profile of Jersey to deaf musicians, the island has decided to host the first-ever national competition for signing choirs this autumn.
Earlier this year, popular US show Glee, which has been cited as playing a part in the revival of community and school choir and singing groups, featured a deaf choir on one of its episodes.
Vivienne Armstrong, who works for the Jersey Society for Deaf Children and Young Adults, the group which proposed the inclusion of the signing choirs, said that this could be an opportunity to show how integral the groups were to allowing deaf people to enjoy music.
“We are delighted that the music section of the Jersey Eisteddfod has agreed to this inaugural event,” she explained. “Signing choirs … allow deaf people to access the lyrics and musicality of well known songs in their own language – in this case, British Sign Language”.
She goes on to state that the chance to take part in the competition could be viewed as an opportunity to “give an insight into the richness of music which is unheard”.
The National Federation of Music Festivals has applauded the decision to start the competition, describing the initiative as “inspirational”.
Organisers are hoping that as many choirs or groups as possible take part, with those competing able to choose whether or not they use backing tracks or sing live, but only the signing will be judged.