REVIEW – Punlished in Swansea’s Evening Post on Tuesday August 10, 2010

For the Bees: A Song of Will for the Bees

Swansea University

On the face of it, an event in which a choir offers a colony of honey bees comfort by singing to them might seem risible, and one could be forgiven for approaching it with no small degree of scepticism.

Remarkably, however, I found myself entranced at this magical act of reverence to a species which is, by all accounts, disappearing in vast numbers: truth to tell, I only became aware of the phenomenon from a throwaway line in an episode of Doctor Who(the “vanishing of the bees” later formed part of the story arc, and I was amazed to learn that bees were, in fact, vanishing in real life)and there was a sense in which this ethereal and ever-so-slightly otherworldly event came across as an act of empathy, comfort and an attempt to communicate with an alien species, much in the spirit of the Ood singing to the Tenth Doctor whilst he himself was losing his own life.

Doctor Who references aside, this project – put together by Owen Griffiths and Fern Thomas – was an emotionally charged and very moving homage to the bees, which had been installed in their hives in a secluded garden area at the rear of the Wallace Building at Swansea University.

The bees had already faced a threat earlier in the week in the form of a resident wasp colony, but happily the bees stood their ground and survived to experience the mystical musical soundscape rendered by a choir composed of people from the local community.

Not even the overcast, rain-threatening sky could detract from the magic of the occasion, and it is fair to say that those who attended were overwhelmed at the manner in which the piece was executed.

While this probably rates as one of the most bizarre events I have ever had to review, it will also stand out as one of the most memorable.

Graham Williams

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