We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without
thinking of the grapes it has borne. - - Marcus Aurelius, ~160AD
Playgoers Riverhead Studio Theatre
Concert performance from
Silence of the Bees: A Science Opera
A bee cantata for solo voices.
Composed by Kelvin Thomson
Songs of Bees and Flowers
Performed by Kate Witney.
Tickets are £8 and are available from Off the Beaten Tracks in Aswell Street and Royston's Deli in Queen Street, Louth or
phone Biff on 01507 358413 to order tickets by post.
After reading about the premiere of my new opera The Silence of the Bees: A Science Opera, Biff Vernon, coordinator of
The Louth Festival of the Bees, contacted me about the possibility of producing the opera at Louth’s Bee Festival. Taken with the idea of
the festival, I immediately agreed. Practicalities and my fondness for recycling my works resulted in a new work. Hybrid Pollination is a
musical exploration of bee decline in the form of a cantata. ‘Hybrid pollination’ in biology is a type of controlled pollination in which
the pollen comes from a different strain or species to improve or increase biological function. Hybrid Pollination continues my interest
in musical hybridity and refers to pollination as a metaphor for communicating ideas. I hope that the work helps to contribute to the
enormous amount of work that Biff, Transition Town Louth and others are doing to communicate and raise public awareness of important
Kelvin Thomson Composer
Extracts from Melissographia
by John Burnside (poet) and Amy Shelton (artist)
Reader: Biff Vernon
Songs of Bees and Flowers
Singer: Kate Witney
Introduction to Hybrid Pollination
by Kelvin Thomson
Composed by Kelvin Thomson
Original text by Benet Catty and drawn from original sources
Narrator: Kelvin Thomson
Soprano: Danae Eleni
Mezzo-soprano: Sophie Yelland
Tenor: Patrick Ashcroft
Baritone: Andre Refig
Music Direction and Piano: Wyn Hyland
Additional piano: Kelvin Thomson
Oboe, Cor Anglais: Rachel Broadbent
PROLOGUE – Them
A short requiem for bees and a requiem for mankind’s ability to make good decisions. A chant of extinct and endangered
species of bumblebees and a nursery rhyme.
Tolstoy’s words remind us of the range of opinions life affords us, particularly in relation to bees.
The Scientist gives an introductory lecture about bees. Three other characters introduce contrasting perspectives. They are different
aspects of her personality.
Short true-life stories of individual encounters with bees continue the big theme of perspectives.
A setting of Jo Shapcott’s poem ‘The Threshold’.
The Scientist’s alter-egos become more dominant, explaining some of the causes of the bee crisis.
The Scientist’s conflicted perspective on the issues becomes a conflicted sense of herself, for instance regarding her
experiments in which she has to harm bees in order to help them. Her story becomes a symbol of the debate over bees.
A comparison is made between the plight of bees and the global warming story; that Man goes through the stages of denial,
deceit, delay and disaster. The bees’ crisis is shown to be representative of a wider story of human ‘progress’.
Settings of Marcus Aurelius and Francis Bacon.
PART THREE SI – Swarm Intelligence
The Truth (As I See It)
The Scientist creates a bee crisis debate in which representatives of Science, Politics, Farming and Art state their
cases in a familiar operetta style. Unity seems far off.
Science Fact / Science Fiction
Tensions rise in the debate. Lack of unity turns to seeing communication as a potential basis for progress. Answers lie
A setting of Liz Bahs’ poem ‘Nest’.
EPILOGUE – Us
The epilogue reprises the bumblebee chant and themes of progress are restated.
Music director, vocal coach, session musician (piano/keyboards), composer and arranger.
Recent compositions have been performed in London, Athens and Glasgow by Marilyn Wyers, Danae Eleni and Enrico Bertelli; CHROMA; Duologue;
and the London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra. LCCO recorded Prelude and Interlude from Cha tig Mor in Dec 2010 and nominated the piece for
a British Composer Award 2011 in the Making Music category. Incidental music composed for Theatre Counteract’s production of An Arrangement
of Shoes, Indian premiere Bangalore, November 2011.
As Music Director, toured with Celtic Woman, USA (2006) and Riverdance, Europe (2004-5). Assistant Conductor: Southwark Playhouse’s
production of John Adams’ Ceiling/Sky at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (1999) and Opera Omaha’s (USA) world premiere of
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem Variations (1996). West End Associate Conductor, Zorro (2008-9) and Priscilla Queen of the Desert (2009-
Recordings as pianist/keyboardist include: Movie Legends – The Music of John Williams – RPO, (2007); Songs My Mother Taught Me - Lorna Luft
(2007); The Isles of Greece a song cycle by Donald Swann (Classic FM’s record of the month 2000); Awakening (1997) and The Music of Life,
Joseph Curiale, RPO (2001).
Rachel studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and studied with Jonathan Kelly (principal oboe Berlin Philharmonic) and George Caird. Whilst at
the Conservatoire Rachel was awarded the Rollason prize for performance and won the Birmingham and Midland Institute Woodwind Competition.
She gained a 1st class B.Mus(hons) degree and then moved to Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study for a Post Graduate in Orchestral
Rachel is now a busy freelance oboist working with many orchestras around the country, amongst which are the Brandenburg Sinfonia, ,
Southern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, London Concert Orchestra, British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. Alongside her orchestral work
Rachel performs as a soloist performing Concertos with various orchestras and working regularly giving recitals with her accompanist Kevin
Vockerodt. Recently Rachel and Kevin gave the debut performance of a new work called ‘Songs Eternity’ by composer Kelvin Thomson.
Rachel is actively involved in teaching and encouraging people to learn the oboe. She has recently been employed to teach oboe at Guildhall
School of Music Junior Department and also teaches at The Hall School in Hampstead, Haileybury College in Hertford and Beechood Park School
in Markyate, Hertfordshire. She is also a published arranger and an arrangement of hers for 2 Oboes and Cor Anglais is available from
Spartan Press. It is an arrangement of Brahms - Variations on a Theme of Haydn and includes the theme and a selection of the variations. In
2012 Emerson Edition will be publishing a further arrangement, also of the music by Brahms. This arrangement is of 3 Brahms Songs and is
arranged for Oboe and Piano, Clarinet and Piano or Cor Anglais and Piano.
Danae Eleni – Soprano
Sophie Yelland – Mezzo Soprano
Patrick Ashcroft – Tenor
Andre Refig – Baritone
With Music Director and pianist Wyn Hyland
Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.
In an exciting and ambitious collaboration between the worlds of art and science, Royal Holloway University of London, presented in
March 2013 the world première of a new one-act opera by composer Kelvin Thomson, Silence of the Bees: A Science Opera, based on the work of
scientist and bee expert Dr Mark Brown.
What happens when a scientist wants to tell the world about a crisis but the world isn’t interested? And when even science may not have
all the answers? Others may hold the truth: how can the science facts be separated from the science fiction? Mixing verbatim material with
poetry by Jo Shapcott and Liz Bahs, this brand new opera, addressed a little-understood crisis, was daring, thrilling and funny.
Mark Brown is a leading figure in current research into the dangerous decline in bee populations in Britain, and has been instrumental
in re-introducing species to this country.
Performed by a professional cast and musicians, The Silence of the Bees was innovative, accessible and thought-provoking, providing a
new way of communicating science and challenging our ideas of what science, art and opera really are.
As part of The Louth Festival of the Bees, Transition Town Louth is delighted to present a concert performance from the opera. Hybrid
Pollination is sung by members of the original cast with the addition of tenor, Paddy Ashcroft. Supporting the work will be Louth's own
Kate Witney singing her own selection of Songs of Bees and Flowers.
Silence of the Bees - A Science Opera - Facebook Page
Review from The Pod Delusion
Hazel Adams - Wildlife Painting
We—Bee and I—live by the quaffing—
'Tisn't all Hock—with us—
Life has its Ale—
But it's many a lay of the Dim Burgundy—
We chant—for cheer—when the Wines—fail—
Do we "get drunk"?
Ask the jolly Clovers!
Do we "beat" our "Wife"?
Bee—pledges his—in minute flagons—
Dainty—as the trees—on our deft Head—
While runs the Rhine—
He and I—revel—
First—at the vat—and latest at the Vine—
Noon—our last Cup—
"Found dead"—"of Nectar"—
By a humming Coroner—
In a By-Thyme!
Emily Dickinson (1830-86)
The Arrival of the Bee Box
The Arrival of the Beat Box (2011)
for soprano and speaking body percussionist
Texts: Kelvin Thomson,
Greek translation. Danae Eleni; Socrates; Timotheus
Italian translation. Enrico Bertelli ; Pindar
First performance at the 2nd Athens Composer/Performer Conference 15.10.2011
Danae Eleni, soprano and Enrico Bertelli, body.percussion
Kelvin Thomson; Composer, arranger, piano, keyboard.