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Symphony finished to mark new era for cancer drug discovery

VIDEO: Watch the finished symphony, entitled ‘Let’s Finish It’ 

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One of the world’s leading cancer research organisations has revealed the ending of a unique symphony created with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to mark the opening of a revolutionary new cancer research centre.

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, commissioned the symphony to reflect the progress of its pioneering Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery – where its scientists will overcome cancer’s ability to evolve resistance to drugs with the world’s first ‘anti-evolution’ drug discovery programme.

Entitled ‘Let’s Finish It’, the symphony originally cut to an abrupt silence three quarters of the way through, as a musical metaphor for the unfinished state of the building and the ongoing challenge to defeat cancer.

With the new Centre officially opened on 17 November, the piece of music has finally been completed and released to the public for the first time. The final quarter of the score symbolises the completion of the building created by The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) to spearhead efforts for new cancer cures.

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The building is the first of its kind to host hundreds of scientists from different disciplines under one roof to lead an unprecedented ‘Darwinian’ research programme that aims to overcome cancer’s ability to evolve resistance to drugs and ‘herd’ it into more treatable forms. The goal is to transform cancer into a manageable disease that can be controlled long term and effectively cured.

The ICR commissioned Callum Morton-Huseyin, a 27-year-old emerging contemporary classical composer, to create an original piece of music that could be released in two parts, and for Britain’s national orchestra, the RPO, to perform it.

The score for the remaining quarter of the symphony, which was written after the original piece of music was released, is inspired by the completion of the Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, the efforts of scientists and researchers to outsmart cancer’s evolution and their steps forward towards defeating the disease.

The different phrases of the finished symphony, which is now the official anthem for the new Centre, reflect the ICR’s efforts to understand the ways in which cancers adapt and evolve, with the ebbs and flows of the music mirroring the highs and lows in cancer research.

As the piece goes on, the music becomes increasingly positive and uplifting, reflecting the building’s development and eventual completion, the ICR’s science and the game-changing future discoveries that could overcome cancer’s ability to evolve.

'A symbol of hope and endeavour'

Professor Andrea Sottoriva, Director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer in the Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, said:

“The opening of the new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery was an incredibly proud and profound day for the ICR and future of cancer drug discovery. And now hearing the finished symphony, complete in its entirety, only furthers that sense of pride. The ebbs and flows of the music perfectly capture the highs and lows of cancer research, but above all the drive and sense of optimism we have for the pioneering discoveries to come from the new building.                                               

“The new Centre offers new hope to cancer patients, many of whom are now more vulnerable than ever because of the pandemic. This finished symphony is a symbol of that hope and endeavour.”

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

“I am immensely proud to share the final instalment of my score. From the outset of this campaign, I know that all of us, Will Vann, and the RPO and I have been incredibly inspired by the stories of all of the amazing medical and research professionals who work tirelessly every day to defeat cancer. These people are heroes – and their endeavours are intellectual, emotional and spiritual, I have poured all of these things into the music, from my own personal loss to great hope and admiration for the team.
"It was a real joy to return to pay tribute to the great work of the ICR, but also to celebrate the building reaching its fundraising goal and seeing everything come to fruition. I know that they will continue to inspire my work long into the future.”

The finished anthem is now available, alongside the original unfinished anthem here:

Let’s finish it - finished


Andrea Sottoriva Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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