Music and Science

From 2010 to 2014, Ruth collaborated with composer Michael Zev Gordon on two musical-cum-scientific projects funded by the Wellcome Trust. Their first project was Music from the Genome, an arts and science project aimed at discovering, and reflecting upon, musical aspects of genes. Each member of a forty-strong choir sang their own genetic code to a text by Ruth, which Ruth and Michael titled Allele.

Allele premiered in 2010 at Diamond Light, the UK National Synchrotron Facility, which won Michael Zev Gordon the 2011 BASCA Composer of the Year award (choral section). Ruth wrote about the complexities of this collaboration for the Wellcome Trust’s website on the project.

Ruth’s second collaboration with Michael Zev Gordon was a project called Awake, which incorporated patients’ reports of waking under general anaesthesia. To begin their research, Ruth and Michael were put into scrubs to visit the Anaesthesia Unit at St Thomas’s Hospital for a day, observing patients anaesthetized for operations from hand surgery to heart surgery, and talked to patients in recovery. They found that Ruth could not bear watching knives cutting into flesh, and Michael could not bear watching injections. Michael then planned a cantata – and the text Ruth wrote for it was called Into the Dark, first performed in 2015 by soprano Clare McCaldin at the Royal Society of Medicine.