World premiere for music inspired by human genomes

Deirdre_gribbinThe world premiere of a piece of music inspired by human genetic variation will be the centrepiece of the 3rd biennial Royal Greenwich String Quartet Festival on Saturday 13 April. Produced by award-winning composer Deirdre Gribbin, during her period as Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the LMB, it is also the subject of discussion on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on 11 April, 10am, and a BBC World Service interview.

Deirdre composed the string quartet piece, ‘Hearing Your Genes Evolve’, whilst hosted by Group leader Sarah Teichmann in 2012.

As Deirdre explains: Discussion about developments in DNA, and its implications on inherited genetic traits with reference to future health, is hugely topical. Debate about genetics has particular relevance for me as my son was born with Downs Syndrome. My time at the LMB was very helpful in giving me a clearer understanding of the science behind his genetic profile. Human genetic variation is difficult to understand but I hope my work might help to make it more meaningful to a wider audience.”

The world premiere will be performed by the Smith Quartet at the Cutty Sark, Royal Museums, Greenwich. Prior to the concert, at 5.30pm, Sarah and Deirdre will be giving a talk on ‘Genetic Science and Music/Genetics Ethics’ to explain the sequences, structures and interactions that occur in genetics and how they can be conveyed through sound.

Sarah comments: “It is fantastic that a leading contemporary composer has taken an interest in a topic as challenging as human genetic variation. Deirdre has worked hard to understand the genetic code, genomics and current research in this area. For instance, she studied data from the 1,000 Genomes Project, an international project to sequence genomes of 1,000 humans, based at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, where I now work. The outcome is a beautiful and fun piece of music that people will enjoy and perhaps be prodded into thinking about our human genomes, which we share to a large extent yet make each of us unique.”


Deirdre Gribbin’s website
Sarah Teichmann’s lab