150,000 young people from all over the country will experience BSL over the next month and I have something to do with it. OK, breathe. This is quite a thing.
Let me explain. When I was asked by Young Voices to interpret at their event at Sheffield Arena last January, I didn’t for one minute think that it’d take off and they’d go for having an interpreted performance at every venue they perform at this year. Well, it did and they have done.
Let’s start from the beginning. Young Voices are the largest school choir concerts in the World. https://www.youngvoices.co.uk/ They had a request from a Deaf parent who would be attending one of the Sheffield concerts last year, so they put a call out and I agreed to work with them. I didn’t have much time to prepare. I think it was around two weeks to get to grips with all the songs and the format of the event. Luckily, I rather enjoy doing this sort of thing. I arrived at Sheffield Arena on a very cold and wet January afternoon, slightly apprehensive about what I’d let myself in for. Arenas are pretty huge places after all.
I need not have worried. What a great team of people. I could not have been made to feel more welcome. Sometimes, as an interpreter, you feel like the one who’d not been picked for the team, you’re an afterthought and people have to put up with your presence – not with these lovely people! I was looked after so well and having a gluten free fish finger sandwich available for dinner just totally made it for me!
The apprehension wasn’t just on my part. The YV team wondered how it would work. We talked through the pinch points and each made the other feel a bit more comfortable. It was really important to be totally honest about everyone’s expectations.
Performing on a stage in front of thousands of children, teachers and their parents who’d come to watch them was an incredible experience. Making this experience accessible was even more than that, it was a privilege.
Post show, it was as if I’d always been part of the team.
One chorus will be signed by everyone
This year, I’ve been invited back. Not only that. I was asked to interpret one of the choruses into BSL and share the video with Young Voices Creative Director, Andy Instone. This was then shared with all the schools who will be taking part. There are always actions associated with the songs and this year one song will have a chorus that everyone signs. It should be quite a vision.
In September, I had the pleasure of going to one of the Teacher Workshops where the team go through all the YV songs and medleys in depth, highlighting the key areas of musical and technical challenge starting with warm-up exercises and choir training tips from Conductor, David Lawrence and Musical Director Craig McLeish.
All the dance moves were polished up by Andy Instone and everyone had the chance to ask the YV management team questions. It was a real feel good day and one of the best ways to prepare to interpret for such an event. Yet again, I felt valued as part of the team.
Interpreted Events – A positive thing for everyone
For YV, last year was a first. This year, they take a huge step towards making this accessibility thing normal. I’d like to congratulate them on doing this and seeing the value of it, not just for the Deaf parents who want to be a part of their children’s experience but for everyone in each of the Arenas who may well go home thinking that having events interpreted is a positive thing for everyone.
I’m really looking forward to working with the team this year. Who knows, Tony Hadley might be encouraged to sign ‘Gold’ when he performs…lets see!
Interpreted concert dates:
Monday 14th – Sheffield FlyDSA Arena
Monday 21st and Friday 25th Birmingham Genting Arena
Tuesday 29th – London O2 Arena
Tuesday 12th – Manchester Arena