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BBC orchestra to cover Merseyside classic

Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood will be covered by an 80 piece BBC orchestra.

Over the past week hundreds of nominations have flooded in to BBC Radio Merseyside to find the “anthem of Merseyside”, which can be reimagined by the BBC Philharmonic.

The final winner, picked by breakfast presenter Tony Snell, will now be covered by the BBC Philharmonic, which has been playing and broadcasting concerts in the North for nearly a 100 years.

Relax was written and recorded by Liverpool-based band Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Topping the charts for five consecutive weeks in 1984, it won the 1985 Brit Award for Best British Single. It continues to claim the top spot for the best-selling debut single by a group.

The 80-piece orchestra has just two weeks to adapt and perform the song, with each musician recording their part in their own home because of coronavirus restrictions.

BBC Radio Merseyside breakfast presenter Tony Snell said: “We asked people in the area to name the song that shouted Merseyside – and the response was incredible. There were so many iconic songs to choose from by talented Merseyside musicians, but in the end Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood felt like a great choice.

“To hear it performed by one of the world’s best orchestras will be phenomenal.”

The song will be played on the breakfast show on June 26 and will then be added to the Great Northern Playlist, a mixtape made-up of one tune from each of the North’s 10 BBC Local Radio. Each track on the playlist will be covered by the BBC Philharmonic.

Simon Webb, director of the BBC Philharmonic, said: “What a song to cover. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a challenge for our musicians, but hearing Relax in all its glory will be very special.

“The BBC Philharmonic has been the orchestra of the North for nearly a century. It’s fantastic that we can continue serving communities here despite the coronavirus restrictions.”

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