Hearing Voices by Jocelyn Pook

Hearing Voices by Jocelyn Pook
The new symphonic song-cycle, Hearing Voices, by Jocelyn Pook, will be premiered by singer Melanie Pappenheim and the BBC Concert Orchestra in the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London's Southbank Centre on Monday December 3. The concert, conducted by Charles Hazelwood, is entitled H7steria. The programme also includes Peter Maxwell Davies' The Devils, Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, and Muse's Hysteria.

Straitjacket embroidered by asylum patient Agnes Richter in the 1890s

Inspired by Gail Hornstein's 2009 book Agnes's Jacket, Jocelyn Pook's Hearing Voices focuses on five moving stories - her mother, great aunt, the seamstress Agnes Richter (see above), artist Julia McNamara and actress Bobby Baker. The piece documents the changing perceptions to mental illness. It is a particularly personal work for Pook, whose own family has been touched by mental illness over three generations. Her great-aunt Phyllis was sectioned for twenty five years in an asylum, which at that time, was seen as a social embarrassment. Nowadays her diagnosis of 'hearing voices' would probably not have resulted in such a severe life-sentence.

Pook explains: 'What in the past was termed "hysteria" a century ago is now seen in a completely new light. I'm fascinated how psychosis is so often associated with creativity. Artists and composer down the ages have been afflicted with numerous mental disorders. Perhaps these creative spirits are merely more receptive and in a sense reflect, like litmus paper, the greater illness in society... So the performance is not a load of crazy grimacing and shrieking, but deals with the more private moments of pain.'

Monday December 3, 7.30pm
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London SE1 8XX

Arnold Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire
Peter Maxwell Davies Sister Jeanne's Vision from The Devils Suite
Peter Maxwell Davies The Exorcism from The Devils Suite
Jocelyn Pook Hearing voices (World premiere)
Muse Hysteria (I want it now) arr. Patrick Nunn

BBC Concert Orchestra
Charles Hazelwood conductor
Allison Bell sprechstimme
Melanie Pappenheim mezzo-soprano
Danny Driver piano



'Madness in the Method' by Andrew Clark
The Financial Times, 23/11/12

Jocelyn Pook: inspired by mental illness
The Guardian, 23/11/12

Threads of Sanity by Jonathan Lennie
Time Out, 27/11/12

Jocelyn Pook has been nominated for a BASCA Award at the British Composer Awards in the Stage Works Category for her vibrant, touching score to Akram Khan's critically acclaimed DESH. Debra Craine in The Times described Pook's music as 'haunting and magical, excited and angry'. The BASCA Awards will be announced on Monday 3 December.

Pook's new album, DESH is released on CD on December 3 on Pook Music (PM001). Pook Music is distributed in the UK by Select Music and Video Distribution Ltd. and in the USA through Naxos USA.


Jocelyn Pook is one of the UK's most versatile composers, having written extensively for stage, screen, opera house and concert hall. Jocelyn has established an international reputation as a highly original composer, winning her numerous awards and nominations including a Golden Glove, an Olivier and a British Composer Award.

Often remembered for her filmscore to Eyes Wide Shut, which won her a Chicago Film Award and  Golden Globe nomination, Pook has worked with some of the world's leading directors, musicians, artists and arts institutions - including Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, the Royal Opera House, BBC Proms and Andrew Motion. Pook has also written filmscore to Michael Radford's The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino, which featured the voice of countertenor Andreas Scholl and was nominated for a Classical Brit Award. Other notable film scores include Brick Lane directed by Sarah Gavron and a piece for the soundtrack to Gangs of New York directed by Martin Scorsese.

With a blossoming reputation as a composer of electro-acoustic works and music for the concert platform, Jocelyn continues to celebrate the diversity of the human voice. Her first opera Ingerland was commissioned and produced by ROH2 for the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio in June 2010. The BBC Proms and The King's Singers commissioned to collaborate with the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion on a work entitles Mobile. Portraits in Absentia was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and is a collage of sound, voice, music and words woven from the messages left on her answerphone.

Pook graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1983, where she studies the viola. She then embarked on a period of touring and recording with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Massive, Laurie Anderson and PJ Harvey and as a member of the Communards.

She also tours extensively with The Jocelyn Pook Ensemble, performing repertoire from her albums and music from her film scores.

For her music-theatre piece Speaking in Tunes she won a British Composer Award and, for the National theatre's production of St Joan, she won an Olivier Award. Pook has also composed scores for television shows and commercials, and was nominated for a BAFTA for Channel 4's The Government Inspector (Dir: Peter Kosminsky).

Pook has chaired and been a judge on various panels including British Composer Awards, Ivor Novello Awards and BBC Proms Young Composers Competition.


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