Silence echoes through the auditorium as each performer steps on stage. The music starts playing, but no words are uttered. Instead, each performer expresses the song lyrics through sign language, a visual form of communication through hand gestures and facial expressions. This two hour concert is meant to bridge the connection between the deaf community and the hearing community for the enjoyment of music.
The American Sign Language concert is being held on April 20 in the Performing Arts Center from 6 to 8 p.m. The audience is expected to include American Sign Language teacher Amber Warren’s acquaintances in the deaf community as well as anyone else who might be interested. Warren participated in this concert in her high school, so while this may not be a new idea, it is new for Katy ISD. The concert is being organized by President of the ASL club Madison Meyer and Activities Coordinator Alicia Hodge, both seniors.
As the event coordinator, Hodge has been working with Warren to reserve the PAC as well as to get the concession stand system and the ticket sales set up. She has also been designing play bills, shirts and tickets. As president of the club, Meyer is responsible for controlling the money that funds the concert while also assisting Hodge to ensure that the concert will run smoothly.
“Organizing this concert has been a long running idea between Alicia and I. We have been wanting to do this for a while but could not make these types of decisions until this year when we became seniors,” said Meyer.
With 20 slots open, there were not any cuts for the ASL students who auditioned to be a part of this production. However, some students had to be grouped together while others were allowed to perform solo acts. The ASL III class is one of the group acts that will be performing. Junior Girik Chawla is a part of this group and is looking forward to signing in front of an audience.
“I am looking forward to this concert showcasing how much the students in ASL III have improved over the years from ASL I,” said Chawla.
In addition to students from Tompkins participating, there will also be students from Morton Ranch, Mayde Creek and Seven Lakes high school who will be taking part in this concert. Part of the proceeds from this concert will be donated by the ASL club to Camp Aspen, a hard-of-hearing camp that was vandalized during the Winter X Games in January.
“Madison and I have been trying to think of more ways to expand our club to involve deafer education and awareness of deaf culture, so we thought that this was a good way to incorporate that,” said Hodge.
There have been mandatory rehearsals and optional practices for students to practice interpreting and signing their songs. Students participating are required to attend a four hour practice on April 14 as well as the full show run through on April 18.
“I am looking forward to seeing the whole show come together and the students’ hard work pay off. This concert teaches them how to interpret music and how to express that interpretation through sign language while also allowing them to send a message of the enjoyment of visual poetry to the deaf community,” said Meyer.