Sound installation tells of highs and lows of life in NHS

Visitors to Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre (ATC) will be able to listen to a unique sound installation from Monday 4 to 8 December that gives a compelling insight into life behind hospital doors.

100 voices

The installation is a wooden roundhouse where visitors can experience 360-degree audio with the voices of 100 people from different hospitals reflecting on their daily lives and work, their challenges, joys, inspirations and losses.

100 VOICES was created by Cambridge-based composer, Hannah Conway, and librettist, Hazel Gould, after five months of research, workshops and conversation with staff, patients and visitors in twelve hospitals. They are run by Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) NHS Foundation Trust, University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW) NHS Foundation Trust, and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Organisers say the NHS touches all our lives, but there are huge numbers of people who work behind the scenes and are seldom seen or heard. The sonic artwork features voices, songs, original music and contributions from a fictional midwife, porter, manager and patient. References to hospital life include critical and end of life care.

The 100 Voices visit to Cambridge is supported by the CUH Arts team, and Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT), and will open at 1pm on Monday (4 Dec).

CUH head of arts, Natalie Ellis, said “Every day, thousands of staff at our hospitals work tirelessly together to provide care for patients. There are so many incredible  professions under one roof all bringing huge amounts of expertise and experience to their work, and united by a commitment to patients.

“100 Voices provides an opportunity for many of those voices to be valued through music-making and conversation, illustrating the immense skill across this hospital, and enabling their stories to be acknowledged. We are so delighted to have participated, and cannot wait for our community to experience the sound installation for themselves.”

Hazel Gould and Hannah Conway said:We seek to represent a true cross-section of the incredible encounters we had during our time in the hospitals. The voices span age, class, race and gender, displaying the enormous range of identities, backgrounds, perspectives, and experience that congregate under the umbrella of the NHS. 

“This piece aims to be an authentic snapshot of people, place, and time.  We have created music from the sound of the voices but the words remain unchanged.”

The installation visited Bristol and Preston during November. See for more.

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