Paul Whittaker

Paul Whittaker

Paul Whittaker

Paul was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, in 1964 with a hearing loss and has been profoundly deaf since the age of eight. He is an organist and pianist, having gained his ARCO and ALCM diplomas whilst still at school. In 1983 Paul was accepted at Wadham College, Oxford, to read for a music degree, followed by a post-graduate performance course at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, in 1986.

In 1988 Paul founded the charity ‘Music and the Deaf’ to help deaf people access music and performing arts.  Covering resources, talks and lectures, training events, workshops, signed concerts, dance and theatre performances, this work takes Paul all over the UK.

Since 2007 Music and the Deaf has run the Deaf Youth Orchestra of West Yorkshire, and this will be developed nationally from 2010. The charity is one of only eight flagship organisations within “Sing Up” providing opportunities for both deaf and hearing people to learn to sing and sign, and a National Youth Signed Song choir will be developed over the next three years.

More information on Music and the Deaf can be found on

In 1992 Paul was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling fellowship to research music among deaf communities in the USA. The same year he began giving signed theatre performances, beginning with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium. Since then Paul has worked on over 60 productions both in the West End and on tour, including Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Chess and West Side Story.

In 2010 he provided the first ever signed Prom, “Sondheim at 80” which was also broadcast on BBC Two, and followed that with a performance of “Porgy and Bess” with Opera Lyon at the Edinburgh International Festival. For the past five years he has signed for Rambert Dance Company, and is proud of the relationship that has developed with The Sixteen.

In 2005 he was invited by HM The Queen to attend a reception to celebrate British Music at Buckingham Palace, and the same year received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Huddersfield, in recognition of his music education work with deaf people.

Paul was awarded an OBE for services to Music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2007.

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