Bringing voices to life

As the opening of our First World War exhibition “For King and Country? The Jewish Experience of the First World War” draws nearer, our preparations have been gearing up and getting quite exciting.

Last week Roz and I spent two evenings at Limehouse Recording Studio with the fantastic Elbow Productions recording the audio for the exhibition.



On day one the brilliant actress Kate Lock read out extracts of Florence Oppenheimer’s diary. It was so exciting to hear Florence’s words read aloud. Elbow Productions’ Creative Director Jan Lower helped direct and guide the voice artists to achieve the best possible recording.

Roz and I learnt a lot about how a slight change in tone or pace could create a completely different feeling to the diary extracts.


Next up was the recording of ‘Onward! The Hymn of the Jewish Legion’ by Pinchos Jassinowsky. We found the sheet music of this hymn in the British Library  and after carrying out due diligence to find the copyright holder we were given permission to record it.

G. 383. ff. (45.), p. 1

I can read music and tried to work out the tune of the hymn but it wasn’t until we came to record that we found out what it truly sounded like!

We were absolutely thrilled when the London Jewish Male Choir ( agreed to perform and record the hymn for us.



Accompanied by a pianist the choir performed and recorded the hymn in English, Yiddish and Hebrew. It sounded fantastic, a true martial, regimental song! The choir brought the hymn to life and I was still humming it when I went home that evening.


We were also very privileged to have Robert Davis from the LJMC sing a prayer for us – The 1918 Memorial Prayer.  It was absolutely beautiful and really moving, Robert has a remarkable voice.


On day two we recorded poems by Isaac Rosenberg and Siegfried Sassoon, read by Sean Tyrell and Robert Nairne. Jan Lower did a fantastic job to direct the interpretation of the poems, a difficult task.

Finally actor Tom Barratt read eight letters written by Marcus Segal. Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the recording but Roz told me how Tom captured Marcus’ spirit perfectly.


All the audio we recorded will be played in our exhibition (opening on 19th March) and I am so excited to hear it all brought together.

I would like to thank all the voice artists, the LJMC, Jan and Sultana from Elbow Productions and the studio Engineers Joel and James for such an amazing experience.

PS this was Roz’s favourite part of the studio!


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8 comments on “Bringing voices to life
  1. Ellie Miles says:

    What a great insight behind the scenes! I’m looking forward to the exhibition, it sounds like it will really bring these voices to life.

  2. bernard barbuk says:

    Just in case it’s of interest, my father was actually conscripted into the 23 rd Royal Fusiliers, part of the Jewish Legion, so I have some photos of him dating from that time. He was 18 and the regimental bugler. He must have seen service in the Jordan Valley because he became seriously ill with malaria, which recurred many times in civilian life. He wasn’t demobbed until 1920, dying aged 50 in 1949 from myeloma cancer, which has a causal link to malaria. Years later the deceased husband of a friend of my mother’s turned out to have been in the same regiment. I have always wondered how many former soldiers of the Legion died of the same (very rare) disease? BB.

  3. Elizabeth Selby says:

    Can’t wait to hear the recordings in the exhibition!

  4. Daniel says:

    Can you put the recordings online?

    • The recordings of the Marcus Segal letters and the Florence Oppenheimer diary will go online as part of the interactive. Unfortunately as the Rosenberg and Sassoon poems are covered by copyright we cannot put these online.

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