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Cancer’s Last Note

The Institute of Cancer Research, London and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra create an ‘unfinished symphony’ for cancer research – to raise funds to complete a revolutionary new research building

  • The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) needs £15m of charitable donations to complete a new research building and take exciting steps towards finishing cancer
  • The under-construction Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery will be one of the world’s most important buildings – discovering treatments that aim to turn cancer into a disease that can be controlled long term and effectively cured 
  • The unfinished symphony abruptly cuts to silence three-quarters of the way through – symbolising the ICR’s unfinished business in defeating cancer, and the incomplete state of the building
  • The music, in its unfinished form, will be available on Soundcloud: soundcloud
  • To watch the music video, visit the page here: https://youtu.be/z4o_BI12vTo
 One of the world’s leading cancer research organisations, The Institute of Cancer Research, London has teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) to create a beautiful new piece of music with a twist – it has been left deliberately unfinished.

Entitled ‘Let’s Finish It’, the unfinished symphony abruptly cuts to silence three-quarters of the way through – symbolising the unfinished state of a building being created by the ICR to spearhead efforts for new cancer cures.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash
Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery will be one of the world’s most important buildings and home to the most successful academic cancer drug discovery scientists anywhere. However, the building needs an additional £15m in donations to be completed and for the scientists to be able to start their urgent work in finishing cancer.

If the building is finished, hundreds of scientists from different disciplines will come together to lead an unprecedented ‘Darwinian’ programme that aims to overcome cancer’s ability to evolve resistance to drugs and ‘herd’ it into more treatable forms. This could turn cancer into a manageable disease that can be controlled long term and effectively cured.

The ICR commissioned Callum Morton-Huseyin, a 25-year-old emerging contemporary classical composer, to create an original piece of music and for Britain’s national orchestra, the RPO, to perform it. The music is inspired by the incomplete building itself, the efforts of researchers to outsmart cancer’s evolution and their currently unfinished business in defeating the disease.

The sections of the unfinished symphony are based on the ICR’s efforts to understand the way cancers change and evolve, with the highs and lows of the music reflecting the historic successes and frustrations of cancer research. As the piece progresses, the music takes an upward turn, reflecting the building’s construction, the ICR’s science and the game-changing future discoveries that could overcome cancer’s evolution.

However, around three-quarters of the way through, before the contemporary classical symphony can reach its most optimistic heights, the music abruptly cuts off. The remaining minute of the track plays in total silence – a musical metaphor for the current unfinished state of the cancer research building.

The music will remain in this unfinished state until the ICR’s building has received the funds it needs to be completed. At this point, the composition will be finished by Callum and the RPO, before becoming the official anthem for the completed Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery.

Dr Olivia Rossanese, who will be Head of Biology in the ICR’s Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, said:

“There will be no other cancer research building like this in the world. We’ll have computational biologists, geneticists, evolutionary scientists and drug discovery researchers all working hand-in-hand in an unprecedented way to find new treatments that can overcome cancer evolution and drug resistance. It has the potential to completely change everything we thought we knew about cancer treatment, but firstly, it needs to be finished. The unfinished symphony beautifully highlights the importance of raising the final £15m so we can get to work on this exciting new area of research.”

Callum Morton-Huseyin, who composed ‘Let’s Finish It’ for the ICR, said:

“I am immensely proud to work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on this fundraising campaign to finish this incredibly important building. I was inspired by the stories of all of the amazing professionals who work tirelessly and ingeniously to defeat cancer, and the music reflects the promise of the building in which they will do so. Just as in my music, there are ominous moments in the journey to defeat cancer but I look forward to writing the triumph of hope and innovation. However, the apex of that final crescendo is not yet within reach – I’m eager to return to the studio and write a rousing ending to celebrate reaching the building’s funding goal. This music comes out of the inspiring stories of all those working hard to end cancer, and together we can finish it.”

The currently unfinished anthem will be available on Soundcloud via: soundcloud To donate to the new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, visit the page here: ICR.ac.uk/unfinished

To watch the music video, visit the page here: https://youtu.be/z4o_BI12vTo

Written by Hassan Ahmed

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