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.