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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Louth Concert for the Bees

Sunday 26th May, 2013, 4pm

Playgoers Riverhead Studio Theatre

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 issues.

Kelvin Thomson Composer

Extracts from Melissographia
by John Burnside (poet) and Amy Shelton (artist)
Reader: Biff Vernon

Songs of Bees and Flowers (ca. 30:00)
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


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 in unity.

A setting of Liz Bahs’ poem ‘Nest’.

The epilogue reprises the bumblebee chant and themes of progress are restated.

Kelvin Thomson:
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 (2009-2011).
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 Broadbent
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 Training.

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.

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