Valley choir offering new music opportunity for the deaf community
PHOENIX — Harmony Project Phoenix is set to debut its new program this weekend, a children’s choir that eliminates the privilege of sound from singing.
Six deaf or hard-of-hearing children make up the choir and perform through American Sign Language (ASL). They will take the stage for the first time at El Puente Fest at the Tempe Center for the Arts on Sunday alongside 12 hearing children who are part of another group with the Harmony Project.
“If they don’t have a voice, why not sing with the hands because ASL can express so much,” Diogo Pereira, executive director of Harmony Project Phoenix, told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “It’s more than a language, it’s a culture.”
Pereira began learning ASL for the program and reached out to members of the deaf community in hopes of creating the choir as an extension of the nonprofit orginization’s goal to bring musical resources to marginalized communities.
The choir’s members, who range from early elementary to on the cusp of graduating high school, over the past 18 months have been practicing remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The performance on Sunday allows the chance to take what they have been preparing for and present it to the community.
Pereira says the benefit of live performances at events like El Puente Fest goes beyond the validation of the stage as it instills confidence in youth, not just for the organization’s newest program but for all of its projects.
“We see students who have the ambition of ‘well, if I can play the violin, maybe I can go to college, I can decide what my future will be,” he said. “That’s one of the missions we try to instill through music.”
Admission to the event is free and more information about the organization can be found online.