Hysteria: A Song Cycle for Singer and Psychiatrist (2018)
Hysteria: A Song Cycle for Singer and Psychiatrist is the third part to a trilogy exploring manifestations of mental health, and was born out of an absorption with the power of the mind, and its interplay with the body. Less talked about and acknowledged, though undeniably still prevalent, is psychosomatic phenomena, which, taking its roots in Freudian analytical theory and case studies, is often overly used to refer to the experiences of ‘hysterical women’.
From a series of interviews with individuals explaining their personal experience of psychosomatic phenomena, or ‘unexplained physiological happenings’, Pook has created a series of movements interspersing observations of psychiatrist Dr Stéphanie Courtade with the ‘patients’ own stories – the music and lyricism of narrative, emotion and recall generates an evocative immersive picture of what it’s like to live with psychological distress, breaking through to the corporeal self. The performance included video accompaniment by Dragan Aleksić and Georgia Anderson (excerpts contained in the video below) and was followed by a Q&A with Errol Francis, artistic director of PS/Y, Jocelyn Pook, Dr Stéphanie Courtade and Lamis Mary Bayar, chair of mental health organisation Dragon Cafe in London.
The project was kindly supported by The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England.
Anxiety Fanfare and Variations for Voices (2014)
Anxiety Fanfare and Variations for Voices is a musical exploration of anxiety disorders, which are amongst the most common of mental health problems.
Pook took inspiration from conversations with people who suffer from anxiety, in all its many forms, and was particularly interested in the experience of living with anxiety on an everyday basis. This selection of new pieces includes first person descriptions of possible causes of anxiety, including the nervous energy of a singer waiting in the wings to go on stage, and some of its many possible effects – hyperventilation, a rush of adrenaline and indecision. They also address the circular nature of living with anxiety on a daily basis, and the busy mind of an insomniac lying awake at night.
Aurora Orchestra conducted by Graham Ross; soloists: Lore Lixenberg mezzo-soprano, Melanie Pappenheim mezzo-soprano, Jonathan Peter Kenny countertenor, George Ikediashibass, and the Mind and Soul Choir led by Lea Cornthwaite.
Drawing Life (2014)
Jocelyn was commissioned by the Jewish Music Institute to create a new musical work. Drawing Life is inspired by poems and drawings from the book ‘I Never Saw Another Butterfly’, created by child inmates held in Terezin concentration camp by the Nazis. Jocelyn will work closely with dramaturge Emma Bernard to create a staged musical piece, an emotionally moving and educational addition to the creative canon of works reminding us of the destructive potential of man’s inhumanity to man.
The production will feature two vocal soloists – Melanie Pappenheim and Lorin Sklamberg (lead-singer of the Grammy-winning New York group The Klezmatics) – alongside Sophie Solomon (violin), Laura Moody (cello), Kate Shortt (cello), Susi Evans (clarinet) and Ian Watson (accordian). It will also use projected video, created by Serbian visual artist Dragan Aleksic, combining children’s drawings juxtaposed with survivor interviews, archive photographs and Nazi propaganda films made inside the camp.
Jocelyn Pook: “When asked to make a piece inspired by the poems and drawings of Terezin’s children, I accepted without hesitation. I had seen some of these works in the Jewish Museum in Prague several years ago, and it had a profound effect on me. What shines through in these works, and also in many survivors’ testimonies, is the capacity in people to find hope and beauty in the direst and bleakest of circumstances and the inventive, creative ways of doing this. I was also touched to read of countless individual acts of kindness and bravery from all sides. This piece will, I hope, be reflective without being devoid of light. It is about the human ability to find ways to nourish the spirit even in the harshest conditions. It is about the positive impact of creativity against all the odds.”
The first preview of Drawing Life took place at Jewish Book Week on 22 February 2014.
Kings Place, 90 York Way London, Greater London N1 9AG
Trees, Walls, Cities, with the Brodsky Quartet (2013)
“[Jocelyn Pook] dared to be naive… [incorporating]
nursery rhymes in a way that as amusing and touching”
IVAN HEWETT, THE TELEGRAPH
Jocelyn Pook’s new work for the Brodsky Quartet and mezzo-soprano Loré Lixenberg was commissioned as part of the City of London Festival (23 June – 26 July 2013). The song-cycle is themed around places with walls, linking Derry~Londonderry, the City of London, Utrecht, Berlin, Vienna, Dubrovnik, Nicosia and Jerusalem in creative reconciliation. Overall, the piece aims to reflect the transcendence of and growth beyond such barriers that divide people.
Pook is among the eight composers who’ve contributed to the work, in partnership with local poets or using earlier texts. Pook’s libretto was specially written by Richard Thomas (well-known for writing Jerry Springer: The Opera and Anna Nicole). A theme running through the texts is trees – symbolic of life, freedom, environment, building and peace. The songs were brought together in an interlocking suite of musical material, composed by Nigel Osborne, creating a coherent journey between the styles and characters of the songs and cities.
Hearing Voices (2012)
Jocelyn collaborated with singer Melanie Pappenheim and director Emma Bernard on a new piece for H7STERIA with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Charles Hazlewood. Hearing Voices is inspired by Jocelyn’s great aunt, Phyllis Williams, who spent much of her life in an asylum struggling to make sense of the voices she heard and writing her experiences in a series of diaries and notebooks. Hearing Voices uses the testimony of five women across different generations who have all been diagnosed with a mental illness. Melanie Pappenheim will duet live with these women’s words, protests and laughter drawn from a mixture of recorded testimony and written texts. Hearing Voices uses the words of artists Bobby Baker and Julie McNamara, Jocelyn’s relatives Phyllis Williams and Mary Pook, and the seamstress Agnes Richter — who stitched cryptic texts into a jacket she wore in German asylum, at the turn of the last century. Hearing Voices was performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant (2012)
Jocelyn was one of eleven of Britain’s renowned film composers commissioned to write music for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. Jocelyn created a new movement using Handel’s Water Music for inspiration. The suite of music was performed for the first time on 3 June 2012 by an ensemble of live musicians on musical barges carrying choirs and orchestras, part of a pageant of 670 military, commercial and pleasure boats on the river Thames.
Ingerland Jocelyn Pook / ROH2
In June 2010, Ingerland, Jocelyn’s first opera premiered at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio. Ingerland is a big, raw, energetic exploration of the world of the football crowd. Directed by Tony Guilfoyle, with evocative video imagery by Dragan Aleksic, the cast includes Tannishtha Chatterjee, Mike Henry, Jonathan Williams, Olivia Chaney, Mikhail Karikis, Melanie Pappenheim, George Ikediashi, and Lore Lixenberg. Ingerland was commissioned and produced by ROH2 as part of a triple programme of short contemporary operas written by artists with established reputations in non-operatic fields.
Speaking in Tunes (2003)
Jocelyn received a British Composer Award (Multi-Media) for the music-theatre piece Speaking in Tunes, a collaboration with visual artist Dragan Aleksic and director Graeme Miller. Speaking in Tunes was a quartet for four women. It was inspired by everyday sounds that were woven into the music in a journey driven by the quartet’s thoughts, memories and dreams. Film landscapes were mixed with fragments of interviews about music, performing and the course of life. Falling carpets, junk shop violins, stories, a collage of notes, movement and shadows, portraits of the musicians all feature in a performance crossing theatre, music and visual art.