Composing Myself: Jocelyn Pook
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 and nominations including a BAFTA, Golden Globe, Olivier and two British Composer Awards.
Often remembered for her film score to Eyes Wide Shut, which won her a Chicago Film Award and a 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, Andrew Motion, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack and Laurie Anderson.
Pook graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1983, where she studied the viola. She then embarked on a period of touring and recording with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack, Laurie Anderson and PJ Harvey and as a member of the Communards.
Pook wrote the film score 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, a piece for the soundtrack to Gangs of New York directed by Martin Scorsese, and a full score for The Wife by Björn Runge, starring Jonathan Pryce, Glenn Close, and Christian Slater. 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). In 2018, Pook won a BAFTA for the 2017 TV film version of the stage play King Charles III written by Mike Bartlett, in addition to her original score for the stage play.
With a reputation as a composer of electro-acoustic works and music for the concert platform, Pook continues to celebrate the diversity of the human voice, touring extensively with The Jocelyn Pook Ensemble, performing repertoire from her albums and music from her film scores.
Pook won an Olivier Award for the National Theatre’s production of St Joan, in 2008, and for her music-theatre piece Speaking in Tunes she won a British Composer Award. She won a second British Composer Award for her soundtrack to DESH, which accompanies Akram Khan’s dance production of the same name.
Pook’s score for Adam by National Theatre of Scotland was an Edinburgh Fringe hit in 2017, and featured a 120-strong, international world choir of trans individuals from across the globe. Adam won a Scottish Arts Club Award, Fringe First Award, was shortlisted for Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and won a Herald Angel Award (for Adam Kashmiry), it continues to tour, with a run at Battersea Arts Centre in September 2018.
Pook has received critical acclaim for her song cycle about mental illness, Hearing Voices, which was premiered in December 2012 by the BBC Concert Orchestra and singer Melanie Pappenheim at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. In 2015 it was reworked for chamber ensemble with performances at Tête à Tête The Opera Festival, and at The Print Room Coronet, Notting Hill (2017), winning funding from Arts Council England and PRS (2017). Pook also composed and performed Anxiety Fanfare, a musical exploration of anxiety in all its forms, for choir and ensemble at: Wigmore Hall 2014, Tête à Tête The Opera Festival 2015 and as a winning composer at the PRS New Music Biennial 2017 at Albermarle Music Centre, Hull and at London’s Southbank Centre.
In 2015, Pook composed the score for King Charles III, an Olivier award winning play by Mike Bartlett, which had successful runs at Almeida Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre and on Broadway. The show has since toured the UK and Australia, and was recently made into a BBC TV film, for which she won a BAFTA for Best Original Score in 2018.
In 2014 Pook composed the score for a new dance piece Lest We Forget choreographed by Akram Khan for English National Ballet to mark the centenary of the First World War. In 2016 she was commissioned to do another work for ENB for their production She Said, which received an Oliver award for outstanding achievement in dance.
Pook’s 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 entitled 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 has chaired and been a judge on various panels including the British Composer Awards, Ivor Novello Awards and BBC Proms Young Composers Competition.