The stories of nine musicians living in Amsterdam during Nazi Occupation brought to life with animation, voiceovers and film

Mokum is a live music program available for either five-piece ensemble (clarinet, accordion, piano, violin, cello) or full orchestra (featuring solo clarinet, bassoon, accordion, harp, piano, violin and cello).

Accompanied by original animated shorts, vintage footage and photographs of Amsterdam before and during the War, and a recorded voiceover, the stories of Mokum jump off the page. With dramatic retellings based on true stories, audiences walk inside another time and place.

The program is 70 minutes without intermission.

artwork by Julia Veldman C

artwork by Julia Veldman C

Starting in the 1930s, European Jews suffered increasing restrictions on their freedoms, ultimately leading to threat of imprisonment, starvation and death.

Spared this trouble the decade before the Second World War, Dutch Jewish musicians continued to pursue their studies and develop their careers. The Nazi infection crossed into Dutch territory with the invasion of Rotterdam in May 1940. Within two years, Dutch musicians and composers were forbidden to create or teach music.

Not every Jew responded the same way to the Nazi threat. Some fled. Some hid. Some had opportunities that spared their lives. Others did not. Each had a different experience, a different ending.

Their music, their stories

Music written by Dutch Jews had to be hidden during the Occupation to be preserved. In many cases, it took decades for those hidden scores to come into light. Mokum celebrates not only the musicians’ stories, but the music they left behind, featuring pieces they wrote before or during the War.

 Roeméense Melodie was written by Dick Kattenburg, a young composer who would only hear one of his pieces performed during his lifetime.