Next Monday (3rd December) there is an interesting-looking programme of music on at Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the BBC Concert Orchestra’s 2012-13 season. It includes the premiere of ‘Hearing Voices’ by the composer Jocelyn Pook, a piece inspired by Pook’s researches into mental illness, specifically her reading of the book Agnes’s Jacket by Gail Hornstein, formerly a guest speaker here at the Centre for Humanities and Health. The piece also draws on family history, and the work of the artists Bobby Baker and Julie McNamara. You can read more about the project here.
This isn’t a work specifically written to change people’s minds or to better inform them of mental heath issues. It is a piece of music and performance. But I realise the fact that I have taken this as a subject matter is, in a sense, political, and if it prompts a wider awareness of mental illness, then so much the better.