Healthcare Workers' Choir“This is the choir where I’m making it up as we go along, because we can’t rehearse.”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Renowned conductor David Brophy is forming a choir of people who work in various healthcare settings, he told Ryan Tubridy. A healthcare workers’ choir. Why? He’s seen the power of singing and what it does when people come together to sing:  

“And I kind of feel if there’s ever a group of people on this island who need something positive after what they’ve been through, it’s possibly these people, healthcare workers.” 

But, David goes on, there’s another, more selfish reason: he’s been spending his time during the pandemic – as have most of us, let’s face it – giving out about restrictions and not being able to visit relatives or whatever, while what healthcare workers have to deal with, as we’ve seen on TV, carries on around the country on a daily basis. So it’s partially a guilt-reduction exercise: 

“I think I’m only – even for myself – only going to be able to kind of process what’s happened and put it in some sort of reasonably-sane context by listening to the stories of those who actually dealt with it at the coalface. That’s part of what this choir is about – it’s for them to tell their stories.” 

You can interview people till the cows come home, David says to the chat show host, but the act of singing together is “like a valve being released”. And when that valve is released, David wants to listen to the choir members’ stories, because he’s sure – and Ryan agrees – that we haven’t heard the half of it over the past 13 months. But he’s really not sure what’s going to happen: 

“This is the choir where I’m making it up as we go along, because we can’t rehearse.” 

Another part of the urge to put this choir together has been the fact that, while David has largely not been working due to the pandemic restrictions, healthcare workers have been working harder than ever: 

“There’s another group of fellow countrymen and women who are now working harder and I’m working a lot less, so a lot of us felt – I felt – utterly helpless. So you feel you want to do something.” 

The choir is intended to be across the healthcare setting, including not just doctors and nurses, but porters, emergency crews, receptionists – anyone who works in a healthcare setting. And it’s also intended to be a nationwide choir, “the musical full Irish,” as Ryan puts it. It’s not the first time David has got a choir together. He’s previously brought together a homeless choir and a carers’ choir and he’s the effect that coming together and singing in a choir has had on people: 

“I’ve seen people in front of me change, completely change... I can see after three weeks, they open, they slowly open. And the singing does that to you. 

You can hear the full conversation between Ryan and David Brophy –including a chat with Fiona Ashe, who works at Tallaght University Hospital and has signed up for the choir – by going here

David Brophy’s Healthcare Workers’ Choir will feature in a three-part documentary to be broadcast on RTÉ. If you work in any aspect of healthcare and you’re interested in getting involved, you can email 

Niall Ó Sioradáin 

© The Listener 2021

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