Coronavirus: And the band played on ... for NHS workers

A Northern Ireland woman is part of an orchestra who has proved that being in lockdown is no boundary to making beautiful music as a group.
The English National Ballet Philharmonic pieced together individual at home performances - Anne Martin is bottom rightThe English National Ballet Philharmonic pieced together individual at home performances - Anne Martin is bottom right
The English National Ballet Philharmonic pieced together individual at home performances - Anne Martin is bottom right

Anne Martin, a violinist from Dromore, now living in London, is in the English National Ballet Philharmonic orchestra, which has created a musical tribute in thanks to the NHS and for healthcare practitioners around the world.

Anne said: “About two weeks ago we all filmed ourselves in our own homes. We sent our videos through to our conductor Gavin Sutherland. He used a piece of software to skilfully edit it all together.

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“The music that we chose is from an upcoming production in the autumn, all being well, of a ballet called Raymonda. Gavin thought it would be a particularly good choice because our artistic director Tamara Rojo, has created a new production of the ballet and her inspiration was Florence Nightingale.”

A previous video by the orchestra was mentioned in the New York Times where Dr Anand Swaminathan, an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at St Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, NJ, commented that he found the music revived him after coming home from a stressful day in the emergency ward.

Anne explained how the second ‘orchestra at home’ video involving 58 players came about: “After the success of the first video our timpanist Kate suggested that we should do something to thank the NHS.

“I have a friend in Italy, Silvia Ligi, who works 12 hour shifts as an anaesthesiologist in Pesaro in northern Italy. The Atlantic (an American publisher covering world news) did a very sobering article on medics fighting the coronavirus in Italy including Silvia. Obviously they’re very badly affected where she is.

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“They can’t even have a drink of water on duty because they’re in extreme PPE gear.

NI violinist Anne MartinNI violinist Anne Martin
NI violinist Anne Martin

“We have a group Whatsapp chat to keep everybody’s spirits up. I suggested on the chat that we should do something to say thank you to all the healthcare practitioners around the world given that it will reach an international audience.”

Describing the moment when she first saw all the individual performances together in one edit, Anne said: “It is very emotional. It’s nice to see all my colleagues. I haven’t seen them for a while.

“It is a piece of music that I’ve always loved. That particular excerpt isn’t that well known by the public in general but it is a very beautiful and expressive piece of music.

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“I’ve sent it to cousins of mine who work in the NHS. One of them told me how she cried because she was so moved by it. It has had a positive effect on many people I’m sure.”

Anne, who has been living in London since 1989, is in lockdown with her husband.

She said: “I usually come home to Dromore every five or six weeks to visit my lovely dad who is 91 (Ernie Martin).

“He normally plays accordion and also sings in Dromore Male Voice choir.

“I can’t get to see him. It’s terrible.

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“I cannot wait to see him and give him a big hug again as I miss him very much.”

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