On Monday, 5th July, 2021 – the NHS’ 73rd birthday – medical staff from Newham Hospital and The Royal London Hospital performed the world premiere of ‘Pandemia’, the composition of a young composer from London.
‘Pandemia’ was written by Apollo Premadasa last year when he was just six years old. It was his way of paying tribute to and thanking NHS staff, scientists, people affected by Covid-19 and many others.
The piece, written for a string quartet, was played in the Great Hall of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, in front of staff from across the Trust, including those involved in delivering Covid-19 vaccines.
The Barts Health medical staff, decked out in rainbow scrubs kindly supplied by Sew Solid Crew, who performed in the concert were:
- Professor Vicky Jolliffe, Consultant Dermatologist at The Royal London Hospital (Violin I)
- Dr Rebecca Waldron, a FY1, Newham Hospital (Violin II)
- Dr Liat Sarner, Deputy Medical Director, Newham Hospital (Viola)
- Dr Andrew Kelso, Medical Director Newham Hospital (Cello)
The three movements of the piece – ‘Survival’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Fight’ – signify the journey the NHS, UK and the whole world have been on these last 18 months.
Apollo is an award-winning musician who studies multiple instruments, including cello and trombone, at the Guildhall School of Music. He’s also an avid composer and is currently composing his first symphony!
Speaking about the piece, Apollo said: “I wrote this piece to say thank you to all the doctors, nurses and scientists around in the UK and around the world for all their hard work during the pandemic. It’s been a really hard time for them and they have all been heroes. Getting to hear the piece be played by musicians in real-life for the first time today was amazing”.
Dr Andrew Kelso, Medical Director of Newham Hospital and cellist in the quartet said: "The world, the NHS, our patients and our staff have never before needed help in healing more than they do now. This piece is a symbolic representation of all that we have been through together and it’s a privilege to be able to perform its world premiere. Thank you to Apollo for writing it – it is a precious thing. Music heals."
On what it was like to play the piece, Dr Liat Sarner, Deputy Medical Director of Newham Hospital said: “The last 18 months have been incredibly hard on NHS staff. To be able to play the premiere of Apollo’s piece, his ‘thank you’ for the work we have done, in front of NHS staff, was incredibly emotional and special. I’m so proud to have been involved.”
The piece also came with a dedication to NHS staff and everyone affected by Covid-19:
To all of YOU
To all the people who have or had coronavirus around the world,
To the scientists who are creating a vaccine to help us,
To the doctors and nurses who are working very hard to save us,
To all the children in the world that are suffering because
is making them live in poverty,
To the children who live with war and coronavirus,
To the parents who cannot produce food for their families,
To the children who now don't have a grandparent,
To the grandparents who cannot go to see their grandchildren,
To the musicians like me that cannot play in concerts or orchestras,
To the children that cannot go to real lessons,
To the teachers that help us,
To a world with coronavirus,
To all of you,
I give you this music