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Ulster Orchestra collaborates with Ryan McMullan to honour NHS

Commissioned by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to write a song marking the commitment and contribution of the NHS and its staff during the Covid19 pandemic, rising international star Ryan McMullan joined forces with the Ulster Orchestra who provided a special arrangement, performed by its string section, to record a beautiful new piece titled If This Is The End.

Ryan, who has toured internationally with Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol, took inspiration for the song from the incredible work of the NHS, paying a poignant tribute to those who have lost someone during 2020 and have been unable to mourn their loved ones in the usual way. Combined with the Orchestra’s soaring string arrangements by Paul Campbell, it brings to mind a spirit leaving this realm and entering the next.

Ryan explained: “When the Arts Council asked me to write a song, the only story that I could think of was the one I had heard of John Wilson. John’s wife got sick during full lockdown, which meant he couldn’t visit her in the hospital or hold her hand as she passed – he never got to say goodbye to the person he spent his life with – and then I thought of the countless others who were going through the same thing. The song wrote itself after that I guess. Having the Ulster Orchestra arrange and perform it with me was so amazing and I’m incredibly grateful to them for being such an integral part of such a meaningful song.”