Delirium is a composition and research project looking at hospital-induced delirium, resulting in two long compositions woven around testimonials and hospital sound. Here is a short excerpt from the second piece:

You can hear the whole of Delirium Part I here on Bandcamp – a song-cycle based on work with the Reading ICU Support Group (UK) in 2012/13.

You can hear the whole of Delirium Part II here on Bandcamp – a 45-minute composition based on work at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (Johannesburg, South Africa) in 2016/17.

You can read Delirium in intensive care: Violence, loss and humanity here, an article for BMJ Medical Humanities journal (Dec 2021)

Both compositions combine interviews with people who have experienced delirium, carers and health professionals, with original music. Part II also uses a lot of ambient sound from the hospital itself. Both compositions were supported by the PRSF Women Make Music Fund.

The music has been presented in clinical and non-clinical settings in the UK and South Africa, from the Royal College of Psychiatry’s Trainee Liaison Psychiatry Conference to medical students at Imperial College and the University of the Witwatersrand, to the Green Man Festival and BBC6 Music.

Some comments on Delirium

“An amazing piece of work, so sobering, real and true; this work needs to be heard [by] all ICU staff […] a lesson in humanity and sensory input” Kim Walmach, Transplant Coordinator and former ICU nurse.

Part II was premiered at the University of the Witwatersrand on 2 March 2017. It is based on interviews and hospital recordings, undertaken with the support of the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre research office. It is performed by Victoria Hume, Chris Letcher and Waldo Alexander, and mixed by Chris Letcher. You can read a 2019 blog about it here on the BMJ Medical Humanities blogs page, as well as an article here in Medicine Anthropology Theory (April 2018).

Part I was premiered in London’s Old Operating Theatre in summer 2013, and has since been performed at the Green Man Festival, the Royal College of Psychiatry, Manchester Metropolitan University, the International Conference of Culture, Health & Wellbeing (Bristol), the Vortex (London), and the Wits Institute for Social Economic Research (Johannesburg). Part I was composed and produced by Victoria Hume with additional arrangements by Quinta and Christopher Reed. Performed by Victoria Hume, Quinta, Christopher Reed and Adem Ilhan, and mixed by Victoria Hume and Adem Ilhan.

Sincere thanks to the Reading ICU Support Group and to other interviewees who generously gave their time and voices to this project – without whom this would not have been possible.

Delirium Parts I and II were supported by the PRS Foundation for Music’s Women Make Music scheme. Delirium Part II was also supported by the Composers’ National Collegium (South Africa), the Anton Hartman Trust Bursary, and the Division of Music, Wits School of Arts (University of the Witwatersrand). 

To find out more, please email

The full masters thesis is available here via the University of the Witwatersrand.

Performance of Delirium (Part 1) at the Vortex, London, 2013, with (left to right) Victoria Hume, Quinta, Christopher Reed


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