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Philips Breathless Choir enables people living with chronic respiratory conditions to fulfill a lifelong dream of singing

November 18, 2015

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Breathless Choir perform on World COPD Day


New York, United States – Marking World COPD Day (November 18th), Philips today unveiled the Philips Breathless Choir. The event brought together a group of 18 people in New York for whom breathing is a constant challenge, and documented their journey through a series of films, as they conquered their fears and defied everyone’s expectations by undertaking the impossible: learning to sing.

Celebrity choirmaster, Gareth Malone, led the group, each of whom is living with a chronic respiratory condition, and many have COPD. Gareth is renowned for turning unlikely people into singers, and following five days of intensive training with him the Breathless Choir was formed. The choir’s transformation culminated with a performance in the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, where they sang the classic song ‘Every Breath You Take’ in front of their emotional family and friends.

Choir member, Evelin Alvarez-Flores, living with COPD said, “In school I loved to sing and I was actually president of my high school choir! Growing up music was always such a big part of my life, but when I was diagnosed with COPD I lost all belief in myself and in my musical abilities. I really thought I’d never sing again.”

Ms Alvarez-Flores continued, “Being part of the Breathless Choir has been phenomenal and it has completely changed my perspective. It has given me back my confidence and not just with singing - it has taught me that I can expect more from myself, and I now know that I am capable of much more. It has been an incredible experience and one I will always treasure.”

Gareth Malone, celebrity choirmaster, said, “All through history, people have sung and made music. Because it makes you feel better about yourself. It makes you feel better about your fellow man. It comforts, it consoles, it amuses, and it’s so simple; it’s just you and your voice, and your breath. I am no doctor but I see the impact music has made on these people’s lives. And I see how much good singing has done in their souls and I think a little bit in their bodies as well.”

Philips believes there is always a way to make life better, and it was this kind of thinking that led Philips to develop the SimplyGo Mini, a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), which empowers patients who struggle with respiratory conditions to continue living full, active lives. SimplyGo Mini with its lightweight design provides nearly 20 percent more oxygen output than any POC weighing five pounds or less. It offers an attractive and sleek design, as well as a strong, comfortable carrying case, appealing to today’s engaged and active patients. Each member of the choir was provided with the Philips Respironics SimplyGo Mini.

Richard Wergan, Global EVP and Head of Brand at Philips said, “It is with great pride that we today reveal the Breathless Choir to the world. We have all been inspired by the choir, and what they collectively managed to accomplish in such a short space of time is truly remarkable.”

Mr. Wergan continued, “The formation of the choir is a great example of how meaningful innovation can actually improve people’s lives. The Breathless Choir has had a profound effect on everyone involved, and it has radically improved their lives. We hope that it will also help to raise awareness and understanding of COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions, so that patients around the world can lead a healthier and more active life.”

Globally respiratory conditions are on the rise and the cost is staggering.1 Lung diseases now account for 7 percent of deaths worldwide. The global cost of COPD alone will rise from $2.1 trillion in 2010 to $4.8 trillion by 2030, when it will become the third-leading cause of death worldwide, behind heart disease and strokes.

The Breathless Choir films illustrate how none of the participants can be defined by their illnesses because what shines through is their determination to share their story of strength and hope in song.  By launching today on World COPD day, the series of films aim to help support the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) to improve awareness and care of COPD around the world.

To get more information about Philips respiratory innovations please go to

1 World Economic Forum/Harvard Report ‘The Global Economic Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases’

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For further information, please contact:

Kathy O’Reilly
Philips Group Communications
Tel.: (o) 978-659-2638 (m) 978-221-8919
Twitter: @kathyoreilly

Silvie Casanova
Philips North America
Tel.: (o) 978-659-7467 (m) 781-879-0692


About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2014 sales of EUR 21.4 billion and employs approximately 108,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at


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