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Hive (trios: clarinet, piano, viola with pre-recorded sound)

by Peggy Polias (2016)

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Digital Audio Album

Hive / Peggy Polias.

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Work Overview

Hive takes a tour around a beehive and honeybee colony to explore some of the behaviours and activities of bees. The question is not so much "What do bees do all day?" but "What can we find in the activities of bees to learn more about ourselves?"

In recent years I found myself stumbling upon news of Colony Collapse Disorder, an eerie and initially inexplicable phenomenon that kept haunting my feed as a reminder that the environment is very fragile, and the loss of something so small as bees could have huge and devastating effects on food supply for people. I started to read a little about bees, and while I'm just scratching the surface, the information I discovered about roles and social structures in the colony, gender and genetics, and about activities such as "dances" and the building of honeycomb, were fascinating and profoundly inspiring.

The theme wove itself organically into the activities around it: chatting with Neil and Catherine about the amazing properties of honey from the Greek island of Ikaria; the chance to finally collaborate with my husband Kieren Paynter, an artist (oil painter) who has been painting bees for many years, and who has created the cover image for this album recording; watching TED videos with our four-year-old daughter who learnt about the lifecycle of the bee at daycare.

Hive is in 13 movements, including solos and duos as well as electronics only, and each movement hones in on an aspect of the colony or the hive, but also departing from this core to reflect on migration, heritage and lineage, community, socioeconomic class, geometry, serialism and the classical tradition of the cl/vla/pno trio format.

Work Details

Year: 2016

Instrumentation: Clarinet, viola, piano, electronics: pre-recorded tracks, delay effect, live electronics in 2 files (via the software Ableton Live & Max for Live).

Duration: 35 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: 1. Honeycomb I -- 2. Queen Bee -- 3. Drone Bees -- 4. Worker Bees -- 5. ElectroSwarm I -- 6. Melissa -- 7. Colony -- 8. Buzzing -- 9. ElectroSwarm II -- 10. Drones and Workers -- 11. Queen and Drones -- 12. Queen and Workers -- 13.Honeycomb II.

First performance: by The Nano Symphony at Reimagine (East Killara Uniting Church) on 21 Aug 2016

Hive was composed as part of the Keeper collaboration of 2016 between composer Peggy Polias & The Nano Symphony: Catherine Thompson, Neil Thompson and Lee Akinsanya. The Keeper project and the composition of Hive was gratefully supported for the duration of 2016 by the Peter Sculthorpe Music Fellowship, awarded by ArtsNSW and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Performances of this work

4 Mar 2020: at Epic Fragments @ Acoustic Ritual (Old 505 Theatre). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

31 Aug 2019: at Extended Play (City Recital Hall). Featuring The Nano Symphony.

2 Nov 2018: at Something Will Happen (Barbiturates). Featuring The Nano Symphony.

21 Aug 2016: at Reimagine (East Killara Uniting Church). Featuring The Nano Symphony.

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