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Song For Hope

“Song For Hope” is the incredible story of Ryan Anthony, the renowned principal trumpet of the Canadian Brass and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Despite being diagnosed with a rare, terminal blood cancer and given just months to live, Ryan and his wife, Niki, started a charity called “CancerBlows” which organizes huge music concerts with the world’s greatest trumpet players, raising millions for cancer research and helping Ryan to live (and play!) for a further eight years! During that time, while undergoing treatment, he climbed Mt. Fuji with his oncologist to raise further funds and awareness for his disease, playing Amazing Grace at the summit as the sun rose.

"Song For Hope" is a story about living life to the fullest, about the unwavering strength and support of family and friends and about one man’s refusal to allow his affliction to affect his love of his art.

  • Chris Haigh
  • Chris Haigh
  • Tara Wyatt
  • Luke Wyatt
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Red Dragon & Arri Amira
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Beaufort International Film Festival
    Beaufort, South Carolina
    United States
    February 26, 2022
    Best Documentary Feature & Best Musical Score
Director Biography - Chris Haigh

Chris Haigh is a storyteller and filmmaker from Manchester, England. As a three time British and European champion brass band musician, in 2015, Chris was invited to perform alongside the top brass players from around the world in Banff, Calgary. It was a trip that would change his life as he and Ryan Anthony met and instantly became friends on and off stage.

From his background in journalism and teaching music in the UK, Chris has gone on to write and direct commercials in the Caribbean, a sell-out music-comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a multi award-winning debut documentary feature film.

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Director Statement

Song For Hope embraces music as its heartbeat, engages everyone in a collective moment and shows the truly wonderful things we can create together.

As a music teacher in Northern England, one of my favorite things to do was to take groups of pupils to the local symphony hall to experience an orchestra performing. Watching their eyes light up with excitement just hearing musical instruments “warming-up” was electrifying! That’s what live music does. It tunes us in and synchronizes us for a shared, collective experience while communicating with each and every one of us, personally.

So, with that in mind and, from the very first note, our award-winning original score, recorded by the sixty-piece Seattle Symphony and mixed in 5.1 Dolby surround sound, immerses our audiences into the world of the orchestra. Floating into the symphony hall, we hush to the sounds of violins warming up all around us like birds in the sky, and witness woodwind instruments “rushing past” on the left channel to get to the stage in front. When we land on the downbeat and the violinist’s bow bounces on the string, we are on stage, sitting among the symphony orchestra, part of the performance, witnessing music being made.

Now everyone watching this film is exactly where I first met Ryan Anthony, on stage. In 2015, when he was about three years into his twelve months life expectancy, we were performing Richard Strauss’s epic “Alpine Symphony” - a sixty minute symphonic masterpiece that musically narrates the story of a climber’s ascent of a mountain and the violent storms they weather on their return home as night falls.

Music became the backdrop to how I learnt about Ryan and his immensely inspiring story. Due to Ryan’s reliance on his art, it became impossible to separate the two, so interweaving story and musical narrative became integral to the unique layout and pacing of this documentary.

From here, for example, with the audience on stage and part of the orchestra, Song For Hope becomes a Symphony and music, the fabric through which this story is told. Diving into the art of classical musical storytelling, this “song” is shaped using “sonata form” structure (the framework behind the great symphonies of Beethoven, Vivaldi and Strauss, to name a few) which allows the narrative to flow and gives it a harmonious wholeness. Everything from the themes, tempos, instruments, rhythms, styles and acoustics develop, modulate and change as we dance from movement to movement, from allegro to adagio, scherzo to rousing finale, interacting and engaging with Ryan and his family and friends.

The whole film is a powerful and inspiring musical tale of human endeavor.

We can all recall first appreciating music that we found compelling or attending a live music event where everyone seemed to experience the same emotions together. With “Song For Hope” we are giving people everywhere access to a symphony hall and an orchestra, to a story told through the universal language of music and to the mountains we can summit every day, no matter the storms we must weather to do so.

In the year that Film Score, Editing and Sound Design are sadly dropped from the Academy Awards live ceremony and music is again the afterthought of the creative arts, Song For Hope shows the immense impact that all three have, it gives them a spotlight and compels us all to stop, listen, and enjoy the music above everything else.