Accessible Arts & Media

York charity Accessible Arts & Media shone a spotlight on inclusive music making in a special concert in York on Saturday 4 March.

The show, held at Millthorpe School, featured uplifting performances from members of three of Accessible Arts & Media’s projects – Hands & Voices, Junior and Senior IMPs – and from special guests, Oaklands School Chamber Choir, who travelled from Cheshire to perform. The audience were treated to rousing renditions of favourite songs by artists including Dolly Parton, Simon & Garfunkel and The Beatles plus original songs and compositions created by learning disabled performers.

Hands & Voices, York’s first singing and signing choir, have been spreading their particular brand of musical magic since 1997. Their set went down a storm with the audience on Saturday afternoon, especially their take on Dolly Parton’s Jolene. Established to give people with learning and communication difficulties the chance to express themselves through music and performance, the choir’s expanded in recent years to include an apprentice training programme, where adults with learning difficulties and disabilities train to become music workshop leaders.

IMPs (Inclusive Music Projects) runs weekly sessions where disabled and non-disabled children and young people get together to make music, have fun and make new friends. Young people from the Senior IMPs music making group opened the show on Saturday, performing pieces they’d composed themselves. Junior IMPs (aged 5 – 10), performing in concert for the first time, were up next with their show-stealing rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. They were joined on stage by members of the Senior IMPs singing and signing choir for some crowd favourites, including a spooky rendition of the Addams Family theme tune.

The Chamber Choir from Oaklands School, a special school in Winsford, Cheshire, captivated the audience with gorgeous harmonies and a genuinely moving performance – there was hardly a dry eye in the house by the end of their performance of I Dreamed a Dream.

And the finale, featuring all the performers, got the audience up on their feet, singing and signing along to Disney favourite King of the Swingers.

Rose Kent, Creative Director of Accessible Arts & Media and York’s Cultural Champion, says: “We’re really proud of everyone who performed on Saturday. Our projects are all about using the arts to help people grow in confidence and when members of Hands & Voices and IMPs get together, they’re a real force to be reckoned with. Seeing everyone on stage on Saturday, oozing confidence and clearly enjoying every minute, showed that with hard work, the right support and a liberal dose of fun and laughter, incredible things can happen. Having our friends from Oaklands perform with us was the icing on the cake!”

For more information on Accessible Arts & Media and their work, please visit or contact Accessible Arts & Media at or on 01904 626965.

Oaklands School Chamber Choir, Junior and Senior IMPs and Hands & Voices performed at Millthorpe School on Saturday 4 March 2017.