Scratch the Surface Festival: BE Music ‘A Symphony of Bee and Man’
For the past six months, Mental Spaghetti has been working with Collective//Pod, of The Pod, Coventry, supporting the upcoming Mental Health Arts festival, Scratch the Surface: Dialogue.
The festival runs September 30th – October 10th, World Mental Health Day, and will present a varied and rolling programme of visual arts, performance, and participatory projects. Artists and full programme will be announced later in the month, but for now I’d like to announce BE Music, by internationally renowned artist Wolfgang Buttress (whose work you may have previously experienced at Kew Gardens).
A unique concert will be creating a buzz in Coventry to celebrate World Mental Health Day!
Internationally renowned artist Wolfgang Buttress and music ensemble BE are set to bring a performance with a difference to Coventry Cathedral – they will be accompanied by 50,000 bees. BE will perform their critically acclaimed album “ONE” featuring a live-streamed chorus of 50,000 bees from a hive within the Cathedral grounds.
An integral part of the performance will be hosted by a bespoke community choir engineered and choreographed by the Pod’s Collective//Pod, an artist collective derived by members with lived experience of mental ill health. The Pod is Coventry City Council’s award winning mental health resource and creative hub.
The event, being held on Saturday, October 7 at 7.30pm, is part of Collective//Pod’s annual mental health arts festival “Scratch the Surface – DIALOGUE” and is being supported by Coventry Cathedral.
BE was formed as a collaboration between Wolfgang Buttress, musicians Tony Foster, Kev Bales, Deirdre Bencsik, Camille Christel and scientist Dr Martin Bencsik, who is undertaking cutting-edge research using accelerometers embedded in beehives.
The accelerometers, devices which are sensitive to tiny vibrations, will be used to livestream the sounds from the bee hive into the Cathedral during the performance.
Visual projections, including images from the project and live footage from the hive, will also be screened, and specially-created candles scented with botanicals from the Cathedral and essential oils from the new bee hive will be used to create a multi-sensory atmosphere.
The bees are already within the grounds of the Cathedral in preparation for the event, and the hive will remain there as a lasting legacy.
“Coventry Cathedral is an amazing space with an incredible history, so it is an honour to be performing there. It will be a very moving and powerful performance, and using bees based in the grounds will give the audience a real sense that what is happening is live. We weren’t scheduled to perform this year, however when we were approached to be part of a concert celebrating World Mental Health Day it really resonated with us and it’s wonderful that we are able to contribute.”
– Wolfgang Buttress
The event is supporting Coventry’s bid to be the UK City of Culture 2021. The bid is being led by Coventry City of Culture Trust and, if successful, would bring social, cultural and economic benefits to the city.
Coventry is now on the shortlist along with four other cities, and will submit a final bid in September before the decision is announced in December.
The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral, added: “We look forward to welcoming BE and the choir for what will be a truly unique performance to celebrate World Mental Health Day. A performance featuring bees has never been staged at the Cathedral before, and demonstrates the diversity of the events that we hold. It’s also nice to have another 50,000 parishioners in the grounds, which will remain here permanently following the concert!”
“ONE” is the soundscape for Wolfgang Buttress’s multi award-winning sculpture The Hive, currently sited in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, which seeks to highlight the importance of the honey bee in the food chain and their plight as a species.
Since recording the album, BE has gone on to appear at festivals including Glastonbury, Bluedot Caught by the River and End of the Road and perform sell-out shows at Kew, Sonos Studios and St Mary’s Church, in Nottingham.
The critically acclaimed “ONE” was in the best album list of 2016 of The Guardian, Rough Trade and The Quietus.
More about BE can be found by visiting www.beeandman.com.