Drawing Life

The Jewish Music Institute’s commission, Drawing Life, a multi-media composition about children in Terezin by Jocelyn Pook. Drawing Life is a dramatised song cycle with film and video, based on the book I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Featuring poems and drawings by Jewish children imprisoned in Terezin, Pook draws inspiration from the children’s creative spirit. The commission marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the disintegration of the Terezin concentration camp in 1944 and the thirtieth year of the Jewish Music Institute.

Terezin was a walled 18th Century garrison town in former Czechoslovakia used as a concentration camp for more than 150,000 Jews. Between 1941 and 1944, of the 15,000 children deported there and then to Auschwitz, only 100 survived. The children’s poems and drawings, stuffed into walls or buried outside, are a moving  testament to the prisoners resilience. Freidl Dicker-Brandeis, a Terezin inmate, who was an artist and educator before the war, organised art classes for the child inmates, seeing art as a way for the young to express themselves. Helga Weiss on her father’s advice was encouraged “to draw what you can see” and depicted the intimate details of camp life in her drawings.

Schools performance
Friday 22nd January
Toynbee Theatre

Wednesday 27th January, 8pm
Djanogly Theatre
£16.50 (£14.50 concessions, £11 restricted view)
Details here

Thursday 28th January, 7.30pm
Warwick Arts
Details here

Saturday 30th January, 8pm
Milton Court:
Details here

Sophie Solomon (Artistic Director and Violin)

Sophie Solomon is Artistic Director of the Jewish Music Institute and responsible for commissioning Drawing Life. The leading klezmer violinist of her generation, her solo recordings for Decca include collaborations with KT Tunstall and Ralph Fiennes. She has performed with artists as diverse as Paul Weller, Rufus Wainwright and the London Symphony Orchestra and theatrical compositions include Our Class (National Theatre) and Off the Endz (Royal Court).

Jocelyn Pook (Composer)

Jocelyn Pook is one of the UK’s most versatile composers, having written extensively for stage, screen, opera house and concert hall. She has established an international reputation as a highly original composer winning her numerous awards including a Golden Globe, Olivier and  British Composer Awards.  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, Andrew Motion, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack and Laurie Anderson.

Emma Bernard (Dramaturge)

Emma Bernard recently directed the Chinese premiere of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes for Beijing Music Festival, conducted by Duncan Ward. She regularly collaborates with composer Orlando Gough, and has directed for Streetwise Opera since 2007, including their 10th anniversary film and live opera The Answer To Everything. Other recent work: Hearing Voices by Jocelyn Pook for BBC Concert Orchestra, Upon This Rock, with composer Jonathan Baker for Metal, Peterborough, 100% Norfolk, Norwich Theatre Royal, and Jilted, a new touring vocal-theatre piece for two singers.

Dragan Aleksic (Visual Artist)

Dragan Aleksic was born in Serbia, studied in Amsterdam and moved to London in 2003 to do an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art. His art deals mostly with ephemeral and time-based qualities and his sculptures, drawings and video installations have been shown across Europe. Previous collaborations with Jocelyn Pook include the video installation Tides and Speaking in Tunes.

Melanie Pappenheim (Alto)

Melanie Pappenheim is a singer and performer. Her voice has inspired many leading contemporary composers including Jocelyn Pook, Gavin Bryars, Graham Fitkin and Orlando Gough and may be heard on numerous television and film soundtracks including Gangs of New York, Eyes Wide Shut and Doctor Who. Her combination of skills as an actor and singer has led to work with the playwright Caryl Churchill, DV8 Physical Theatre and ‘vocal big band’ The Shout. She recently appeared as Elizabeth I in Dr Dee a new opera by Damon Albarn and Rufus Norris.

Lorin Sklamberg (Tenor)

Lorin Sklamberg is lead singer of the Grammy winning Klezmatics, the world’s greatest klezmer band and the leading exponent of Yiddish song and traditional Jewish vocal techniques and also a central figure in preserving the living heritage of Yiddish music through his role at the YIVO institute in New York.

Ian Watson (Accordion)

Ian Watson graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with the Dip.RAM, its highest performance accolade. He performs regularly with London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Britten Sinfonia and Icebreaker, and works closely with leading composers including David Gorton, Howard Skempton, Michael Zev Gordon, and Jonathan Dove. He has performed and recorded with Blur, The Divine Comedy and Sophie Solomon and is regularly heard in film scores.

Susi Evans (Clarinet)

Susi Evans leads She’Koyokh, hailed by Songlines magazine as ‘Britain’s best klezmer and Balkan band’ and is a member of the London Klezmer Quartet. She also performs with Abdullah Chaadeh, Daphna Sadeh and Cigdem Aslan and is an experienced workshop leader, most recently at the Snape Proms.

Laura Moody (Cello)

Laura Moody is an alternative cellist, vocalist and theatre performer performing extensively as an avant-singer songwriter and interdisciplinary performer. A long-standing member of innovative string quartet the Elysian Quartet, she is also known for her virtuosic ability to perform with cello and voice simultaneously to create unique, theatrical, almost-pop music.

Kate Shortt (Cello)

Kate Shortt trained as a cellist, jazz singer and pianist at Guildhall School of Music. She is a member of Northern Lights Symphony Orchestra and plays in various bands. She has also played for Cliff Richard, Tears for Fears, Take That and Simon le Bon.

To view a gallery of pictures from the last night of the tour, please click here

Click the pictures below to listen or hear the features.

Jocelyn Pook (Composer) and Emma Bernard (Director) talk about creating the piece.


Watch the cast of Drawing Life with the Zemel Choir close BBC Newsnight’s programme on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Listen to Jocelyn Pook and Emma Bernard in interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour
womans hour

Read The Times’ Critic Geoff Brown’s 4 star review of the concert in The Times

the times

We interviewed composer Jocelyn Pook about her inspiration for the music. That feature can be heard here

Emma Bernard was interviewed for Radio Plus Coventry and that feature can be heard here

Jocelyn Pook was also interviewed on InTune and that feature can be heard here

Jennifer Jankel was interviewed on BBC Radio Nottingham. That feature can be heard here


“Drawing Life is a beautiful, but unbearably moving performance. The music and singing are stunning. The story of Terezin is terrible, but needs to be told.”  Jenni Murray BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour

“Multimedia packages of music and video are ten a penny, but I can’t remember one that matched the dynamic blend and emotional appeal of Drawing Life.” Geoff Brown, The Times

“A ray of sun is sometimes all it takes for a person trapped under rubble to gather strength and wait for rescuers to arrive. The multi-media performance portrayed beautifully the power of the sound of music, or the colours of a butterfly’s wings  – to bring relief, if only momentary, to the tormented souls and bodies of those like the Terezin Camp’s inmates. It gave the audience the opportunity to realise how important these moments were, through the testimonies of the survivors.” Dan Golan, Director of Culture, Israeli Embassy, London.

“Drawing Life is important because it is not only the story of the Jews in the Holocaust but a reminder to us all to fight bigotry and prejudice. It is a beautiful and inspiring play which makes audiences both weep and reflect.” Lady Solti, Joint-President of JMI

“The performance of Drawing life was intensely moving and  has haunted my thoughts ever since I saw it. It created a soundscape for the astonishing poems and pictures of the children. The seamless direction avoided every cliché. It moved minimalistically and was never sentimental. I loved it.” Maureen Lipman

“One of the most moving things I’ve seen and the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. So beautifully and simply directed too and the story so clearly told. I thought the recorded and filmed pieces incredibly powerful and finishing with wonderful Alice Herz-Sommer absolutely breathtaking.” Patrick Barlow, Actor and Playwright



Channel Four

The Independent

Evening Standard

Drawing Life is the recipient of funding from the Arts Council and the PRS for Music Foundation. It has also been selected by the PRS for Music Foundation as a winner of the David Bedford Music Education Award, which recognises exceptional music education projects involving composers and new music.

PRS LogoArts Council Logo

    1. 2014: February 22nd – Jewish Book Week
    2. 2014: Gala – July 2nd – JW3
    3. 2016: UK Tour
      1. Lakeside Nottingham 27th January
      2. Warwick Arts 28th January
      3. Barbican 30th January