Bee Composed - Lily Hunter Green

In 2014 Lily Hunter Green was invited by international music and arts organisation, Aldeburgh Music to participate in its annual visual art exhibition SNAP. This resulted in the development of her new piece of work, Bee Composed: a piano and a hive of bees, which was funded by Arts Council England. 

The basic premise of Bee Composed was to create a new work that helped raise the profile of the diminishing numbers of bees and the predicted catastrophic global ‘fall out’ of this decline.

Working with two redundant pianos in different locations, Lily converted Piano 1 into a working beehive.  Using the live footage and sounds harvested from this piano, I then fabricated Piano 2, which, set in a planted bee garden at SNAP, ‘played’ an original composition devised with the sounds made by the bees in Piano 1. It additionally provided a live Skype link to Piano 1 via one of the honeycomb domes, thus allowing the public to view the hive remotely. 

Over a period of three months 10,000+ people interacted with Piano 2. I also ran a series of planting, music and dance workshops with local school children alerting them to the threat to the bees. 

Bee Composed Live

This project embodies the natural evolution of my earlier installation ‘Bee Composed’ (SNAP: 2014) via the creation of a live performance piece that combines science, music and dance with original audio-visual compositions harvested from a working beehive located in native woodland.

Drawing inspiration from my observations of this hive community over an eighteen-month period, it is my intention to explore and make manifest the intricate workings and natural balance of this fascinating endangered community, and beyond that, it’s vital connection to our own human community.

The primary purpose of this project is to raise awareness of the declining bee population. By creating an original narrative that resonates with human society via live art and performance, that in turn provides fresh insights into bee ecology, I hope to stimulate a new awareness and empathy for bee conservation. I will do this by creating a simulacrum ‘hive mind’. That is, fostering the idea of a ‘collective consciousness’ and working in collaboration with a choreographer, dancers and musicians, I will develop a series of multi-dimensional, multi-layered collaborative interactive performance pieces based on the scientific ‘happenings' inside the working hive, including the waggle dance, the ‘ piping' announcing the battle of the queen bees, and so forth. Something that I explored earlier this year with Neon Dance and contemporary violinist Tom Moore as part of my Open Session Residency at Aldeburgh Music in Suffolk, the location of the original installation ‘ Bee Composed’.

Bee Composed in the Gardens

Bee Composed in The Gardens represents another evolution of Bee Composed.

Following an initial research and development period, I will create an interactive community bee-friendly sound garden. This will be laid out in the formation of a traditional orchestra with each orchestral component represented by a specific bee friendly plant, i.e. lavender will be the string instruments.  The idea would be to imbed tiny microphones within certain flowers and flower beds, so that as a bee flies towards the flower the sound is amplified. Where a conductor would usually be placed within an orchestra setting, there'll be a control station made out of an iPad or tablet. This is a station in which the public can control the garden, including the idea that they can 'plant their sounds' the garden, record and collaborate with the sounds of nature. They can select various sections of the garden and choose which recording comes out where.

I will also run a series of community planting workshop sessions, followed by a number of short live performances, all involving my creative and community collaborators.

Unlike the earlier version of Bee Composed, which was devised and fabricated by myself, Bee Composed In The Gardens is predicated on community engagement and participation.

A community garden can and should be a transformative, life-enhancing space. As such, Bee Composed In The Gardens hopes to bring a diverse range of people together in a supported and fun environment. It’s aim is to create an exciting new creative space that will help bridge the gap between arts, science and different communities. That is, to plant, shape and build a new collective solidarity between multiple communities.