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Bee composed: Piano turned into beehive for Aldeburgh installation

16 June 2014

A sound artist has created a working beehive inside an upright piano to raise awareness of the plight of the UK’s declining bee population.

Bee Composed, created by Lily Hunter Green, is an audio-visual installation that comprises two pianos. The first, located on the Henry Moore Lawn at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, no longer functions as a conventional instrument, but as the viewer approaches, a sensor activates sounds from within the piano body.

Pre-recorded film footage of bees is projected within two beehive-like structures situated at the top of the piano. The footage is taken from a second piano, located close by but that is not accessible to visitors. This piano has been set up as a working beehive. As the hive evolves throughout the installation period, new footage will be relayed to the Henry Moore Lawn piano.

Green will then create audio that combines the bee recordings with piano music. ‘The bees will have direct access into the body of the second piano and are likely to interact with the soundboard and strings,’ explained Green, ‘I’m intrigued at this stage about the sounds the bees will make as a collective in the acoustics of the piano.’

Green worked closely with apiarist Penny Robertson and sculptor Alexander Johnson to create the piece. She will also be running workshops with local schoolchildren to raise awareness of the importance of bees. Bee Composed is part of SNAP 2014, part of the Aldeburgh Festival.

The project was possible thanks to donations made online via Kickstarter. Green’s video campaign can be seen here.

Bee Composed will be located on the Henry Moore Lawn at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, until 29 June

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