Celebrating the NHS 70th birthday with BBC Radio 3

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Celebrating the NHS 70th birthday with BBC Radio 3

As part of a special BBC Radio 3 commission to mark 70 years of the NHS, BBC Producer Laurence Grissell brought together singers from NHS hospital choirs with singers from The Bach Choir to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS on 5 July 2018.

He said: “I was very keen to see if The Bach Choir might consider being involved. I know Alex Woolf has worked with The Bach Choir and holds it in the highest regard so I thought I would get in touch to see if the Choir would consider being involved in our project.”

Young composer Alex Woolf was the winner of The Bach Choir’s ‘Sir David Willcocks Carol Competition’ last year, and now the choir has been recorded singing another of his works to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS.

The NHS Symphony is a collaboration between producer Laurence Grissell and composer Alex Woolf, which will be broadcast in Radio 3’s popular ‘Between the Ears’ slot on 30 June at 2130. The programme is a portrait in words, sounds and choral music capturing the life of the NHS – specifically the Queen Elizabeth and Heartlands hospitals in Birmingham. The work is comprised almost entirely of recordings with staff and patients in three departments : cardiology, A&E and maternity, with Alex Woolf’s specially-commissioned choral piece blended and woven into the recording.

Alex Woolf worked with a choir of NHS staff drawn from Lewisham and Greenwich NHS choirs, supported by The Bach Choir, to record the music at BBC Broadcasting House on Sunday 17th June, conducted by rising star of the conducting world, Mark Austin.

David Hill, Musical Director of The Bach Choir says of this latest venture: “Alex’s carol ‘Nowell’ was inventive, suitably challenging and a worthy winner of the first Sir David Willcocks Carol Competition. So The Bach Choir was delighted to work with him and BBC Radio 3 again to celebrate this milestone anniversary of the NHS.”