In 2016 whilst undergoing treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma, Simon Astill dreamed up the idea of having a National Signing Choir Competition to showcase the talents of the Signing Choirs that exist in the UK.
At that time, there was only one competition that existed in Jersey as part of the Jersey Eisteddfod every November and not all the Signing Choirs were able to travel to Jersey to compete in this competition because of a number of reasons.
Simon decided to put the time he had on his hands in good use and spoke to a number of choirs he had contacts with and decided to organise the First National Signing Choir Competition in his home town of Nottingham.
The Albert Hall, Nottingham, was the host for the competition in 2017 and was hosted by Mr Stewart Hill, an armed forces veteran, who was a member of Gareth Malone’s Invictus Choir in 2016.
The competition consists of two categories at the moment, The Junior Category who compete for the John A Stephens Trophy and the Open Category (18 and over) who compete for the Morgan Astill Inspiration Trophy.
The aim of the competition is to give Signing Choirs chance to showcase their talents and compete on a national level with other choirs in the UK. It is held yearly and is given to Choirs in the North of the Country one year and the South the following to ensure that choirs unable to travel far have the opportunity to showcase their talents at least once every two years. The next Signing Choir Competition, in 2019 will be held in Dundee, hosted by Signed Songs R Us.
Should you belong to a choir who wishes to host a future National Signing Choir Competition, please e mail us and we will be in touch.
Signing Choirs – What exactly are they?
A number of people have been asking; they are choirs that perform like any other choir but rather than sing with their voices, they sing with their hands in British Sign Language, while telling a visual story behind the song they are “Singing”.
Singers express the song through the pitch, tone and emotion of their voices, Signing Song performers do the same with their hands, body and facial expressions, it is a visual spectacular for the senses.