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Fevers, Frets, and Futures: A music reflection of uncertain times and new challenges

David Warren (Year 4, Leicester)

In the past three years, anxiety surrounding COVID-19 has been widespread. Fretting over threats to our health, economic, and social models, alongside broader challenges of the pandemic, has been a status quo, with questions of ‘what if’ and ‘what of the future’ playing a major role.[1] Every health and political system across the globe has been put to the test.[2] It is regretful that in many cases the responses of leaders have often been ‘improvisational, occasionally bordering on the absurd’, which was especially unsettling in the period before vaccines arrived.[3]

The future holds some promise but continues to be uncertain. Whilst relative stability from high levels of vaccination and infection has offered a crutch, there is much yet to be understood about long-term control and long-term health repercussions.[4] We have, in the words of Prof Peter Oppenheimer, ‘become rather accustomed to hearing large numbers and thinking, Well, it could be worse’.[5]

The arts have long been used as a remedy to the frets surrounding uncertainty and even fevers.[6] [7] Through recent lockdowns, musical offerings have been extended – some more welcome than others – from a celebrity rendition of Imagine to the BBC’s Big Night In.

My short musical reflection on ‘Fevers, Frets, and Futures’ spreads from a small musical motif based on three ‘F’ pitches which eventually sweep across the whole orchestra.

The first section traces a gradual rise in pitch and intensity, reflecting the emotional and literal spiking of a fever and a pandemic.  The middle section releases the instruments of the orchestra into a cacophony of fretting, with heated dialogues between various parties. The final section looks forward to the future. A brighter feel takes hold but is ultimately overshadowed by the underlying sense of uncertainty that pervades the day-to-day in national and global economic and political climates.



[3] Sachs JD, Karim SS, Aknin L, et al. The Lancet Commission on lessons for the future from the COVID-19 pandemic. In The Lancet. 14/09/2022,

[4] Telenti A, Arvin A, Corey L et al. After the pandemic: perspectives on the future trajectory of COVID-19. In Nature; 596:495-504.

[5] Duncan C. Tow years of COVID-19: What’s next for the pandemic? Imperial College London.

[6] 600 years of sickness – classical music composed in response to pandemic. 15/04/2020

[7]Ozoria T. Why music is great for your mental health. MIND. 21/02/2011

David Warren (orchestral score)

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