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The Breath Project


We can't live without breathing. We certainly can't sing without breathing.

In 2014 composer Orlando Gough created BREATHe, a new piece of music theatre through research in the Respiratory Medicine department at the Churchill hospital and dialogue with doctors, patients, scientists and Oxford University academics.

BREATHe was first performed at the North Wall in November 2014 as part of a one-day Breath Festival of events, talks, performances and exhibitions across Oxford's museums.

BREATHe cafè table tops: You will notice a change to some tables in the John Radcliffe and Churchill cafès. Vinyl 'tablecloths' with facts, poetry and quotes about breath and breathing will give visitors something to look at and talk about whilst they sip their coffee and showing a link to a film of BREATHe offering a musical accompaniment.

BREATHe Staff Singing Group

A group of hospital staff are performing ‘flash mob’ concerts across the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals during June for the enjoyment of patients, visitors and staff. They are singing songs about breath and breathing, including choruses from BREATHe, and will be singing on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 15 June 5.30 to 6.15pm in the West Wing atrium (JR site)
  • Wednesday 29 June 5.30 to 6.15pm in the Transfer Lounge (JR)
  • Wednesday 6 July 5.30 to 6.15pm Cancer Centre entrance (CH)

BREATHe Film: We have now made a film of BREATHe - interspersing excerpts of the performance with interviews with those involved in the project. It explores breath - from our first to last - from a range of perspectives - from its place in literature, to the science behind our breathing, and the health benefits of singing.


If you enjoyed the BREATHe trailer above, then watch the full 36 minute film on or

BREATHe on Radio Cherwell: You can also listen to BREATHe on Radio Cherwell through the bedhead entertainment system or on line at 10pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evening. Visit for details.

BREATHe was developed to mark the tercentenary of the death of Dr John Radcliffe who generously donated the funds to enable the building of The Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford's first hospital. This project celebrated his life by bringing together the arts and medical science.

The Breath Project was developed by artlink in conjunction with Oxford Contemporary Music and the Sound Resource project Singing for Better Breathing, Oxford Aspire and Oxford University Humanities department. It was supported by ORH Charitable Funds, Oxford University Hospitals, The Radcliffe Trust, a Wellcome Trust Arts Award and Arts Council England.

Interesting links:

The Sidney de Haan Centre at Canterbury Christ Church University University has done extensive research on the health benefits of singing see

For more information on respiratory health see The British Lung Foundation and The British Thoracic Society