By Catherine Machado
Musicans@Ryerson is changing the way students perceive the blind.
The stigma around the visually impaired places them as just that — impaired. Musicians@Ryerson hosted its second “Darkness Concert” on Wednesday that had students experiencing first-hand just what a lack of sight offers.
Last year, the Chinese Students’ Association turned to Musicians@Ryerson to collaborate on an event that used music as an avenue to deteriorate stereotypes around being blind.
The two groups took to hosting a concert in darkness to raise both money and awareness for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).
A hundred per cent of the proceeds raised were donated to the CNIB. The donation was accepted by guest speaker Lisa Derencinovic on behalf of the institute.
Through a darkened room and blindfolds, the event aims to simulate the experience of being blind.
“Even when you’ve lost that sense, your other senses are heightened,” said Musicians@Ryerson president, Victor Copetti.
This is where the performers come in.
Copetti said that through this immersive environment, audience members experience the music in a unique, incomparable way.
“We could hold an event and say we are raising money for the CNIB, and that’s great and people will listen to the music but, they don’t experience it in the way that people do at a concert like this.”
“The idea of the event was to see (being blind) as less of a disability and more as a different way of living,” said Copetti.
This year Copetti threw spoken word into the experience.
The role of the poets will be to link the performances together with spoken word in a way that tells a story. The story will be under the theme of how losing one sense heightens another.
“Who better to do a story than spoken word artists,” he said.
The poetry came from Poetic Exchange, a student group new to campus.
The event featured musicians such as The Lifers, Christina Da Re and Little Boxer.
Those attending the event were blindfolded and led into the concert by ushers. The room itself will be darkened with several safety precautions in place, such as light strips along the isles. If an attendee is in need of visual assistance Copetti said they are to raise their hand to then be ushered out of the room.
Copetti’s experience at last year’s show made him regard the life of the blind in a totally different way.
“I always thought that blind people, you know, they’re disabled, they are lacking something. When in reality, they are not lacking something they just have more of something else to compensate for it,” he said.
“I knew it was something we had to do again, but bigger. I want to say it opened my eyes but…” Copetti laughs, “you know what I mean.”