Commissioned by BBC 3 for the BBC Concert Orchestra and premiered at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on December 3, 2012, conducted by Charles Hazlewood.

  • 2(I/afl, II/picc)2(ca)2(bcl)2(cbn)/4231/timp.2perc/hp.Sampler (recorded voices)/str
  • Mezzo Soprano
  • 35 min

Programme Note

Hearing Voices looks at the individual experiences of mental illness by a series of women from different generations, each portrayed in turn by the solo singer and with the musical potential of the human voice deeply embedded in the score.

The work is particularly personal for Pook, whose own family has been touched by mental illness over three generations. It features recorded testimony and writings from artists Bobby Baker and Julie McNamara, Jocelyn's relatives Phyllis Williams and Mary Pook, and the seamstress Agnes Richter, inmate in a German asylum in the 1890s, who covered her straitjacket with densely embroidered text.

Read Jocelyn Pook's article 'inspired by mental illness' in The Guardian from 23 November 2012 here.

Originally commissioned as an orchestral song-cycle for the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2012, Hearing Voices has since been reworked and extended as a multi-media performance piece for chamber ensemble. Read more about the chamber version here.

The work is part of Pook's Mental Health Trilogy, a collection of compelling and relevant works exploring mental health and psychological trauma in all its manifestations:

I. Hysteria - A Song Cycle for Singer and Psychiatrist (2018)

II. Hearing Voices (full orchestra, 2012) | Hearing Voices (chamber, 2015)

III. Anxiety Fanfare and Variations for Voices (2014)



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