The terms sign language and concert are not usually associated together, but in its latest show, the American Sign Language (ASL) Club made a case for the pairing.
The club hosted its sixth-annual spring concert this past Thursday at the University Union Undergrounds. They were joined by other student groups including Note to Self, Binghamton Glee Club and the Harpur Harpeggios. Each song was performed in ASL by members of the club in tandem with song recordings, and the student groups that contributed to the concert were accompanied by ASL translation on the side of the stage.
Victoria Fabrizio, president of the ASL Club and a senior majoring in mathematics, described the concert as a long effort in the making.
“We started planning right at the start of the semester,” Fabrizio said. “And we’ve been practicing for two months, ever since the middle of February.”
The performers sampled music from a variety of different artists and genres, with selections ranging from older songs like “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5, to recent hits such as “Sucker” by the Jonas Brothers as well as Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s song, “Shallow.”
Christopher Wright, secretary of the club and a junior double-majoring in political science and economics, said the ASL Club faced difficulties in its preparations, as they were responsible for translating all the songs that were to be performed by each group at the event.
“It’s a very different grammatical structure than English,” Wright said. “But my favorite part was learning all the songs and practicing, even just messing up.”
According to the American Sign Language University, an online ASL curriculum resource center, one main difference between the languages involves pluralization. In spoken English, pluralization is indicated through the use of prefixes, whereas in ASL, people must sign a quantifier sign, reduplicate the sign or incorporate a number directly into the sign.
Free pizza and popcorn were also offered to students as they watched the performances. Some attendees found themselves singing along to the soundtracks of songs. Kaitlyn Chavez, a senior majoring in psychology, said her experience at the spring concert challenged some of the preconceptions she held regarding ASL.
“I thought it was going to be more awkward or quieter, but it was energetic and fun instead,” Chavez said. “My favorite song was ‘Seasons of Love.’”
A total of 11 songs were performed over the course of the evening, punctuated by bouts of applause from the audience.
Hannah Reichelscheimer, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said the concert was a unique experience for her.
“The concert was very different,” Reichelscheimer said. “It’s like integration with all of your senses.”