BEE-SHARP HONEYBEE from composer Rae Howell is an immersive journey through the secret life of bees, performed here by the Sunwrae String Orchestra, intertwined with the hum of a live honeybee hive. It is the foundation of a large-scale multimedia work, featuring live animated projections synchronized with the music, and a real-time stream of honeybees, filmed, amplified, and intermittently fed through the live performance.
Developed from extensive research into bee (buzz) rhythm, pitch, and “waggle dance” patterns (the sophisticated system of communication between bees, detailing the distance and direction of nectar in the environment), BEE-SHARP HONEYBEE magnifies the subtle intricacies of the beehive, highlighting these distinct patterns, identified through field recordings made during the initial research and development of the project.
Rae Howell is an award winning composer and multi-instrumentalist. She is founding director of Sunwrae: a touring ensemble, label and sheet music publisher, and works across a broad range of genres in collaboration with performing and visual artists, in film, theatre, dance, concert hall, and multimedia productions.
She has studied music at Melbourne University, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, New York University Steinhardt, and has produced a large catalogue of original music albums, sheet music publications, collaborative recordings and sound designs. Her list of works span from solo to orchestral pieces, sound designs for installations, film and theatre soundtracks, and special event commissions.
Rae has been awarded a UNESCO Aschberg Bursary, a Finzi Trust Scholarship and Guildhall Trust Scholarship (UK), the Eric Stokes Award (USA), and the inaugural MOMENTUM Commission through the Australian Music Centre. She is a fellow of Yaddo and the Millay Artist Colony in New York, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska, the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, The Banff Centre Canada, and has been Visiting Composer for numerous projects and residencies including the ARENA International Theatre Festival in Erlangen, Germany; Instituto Sacatar in Bahia, Brazil; The Visby International Centre for Composers in Sweden; Ho Chi Minh City Opera House Vietnam, ECCO International in The Gambia West Africa; La Sonora in Argentina; The Edward Said National Conservatoire of Music in Palestine; and Backspace Arts in Australia.
Her music has been broadcast on WNYC, NPR, BBC Radio 3, ABC Classic FM, ABC Radio National, plus a myriad of regional and community radio stations globally. Performing ‘little symphonies for the contemporary population’, Rae’s compositions are a rare treat, crossing the boundaries of classical, jazz, popular and cinematic styles with immediacy and vibrancy rarely experienced in contemporary music today.
Rae has performed her music at festivals and concerts worldwide including Australia House London for the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip and Sir David Attenborough, the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House Vietnam, i=u Festival London, SxSW Festival USA, Golden Plains Festival, Brisbane Festival, The Famous Spiegeltent, Camden Haven Music Festival and the Museum of Modern Art in Salvador, Brazil. Other career highlights include projects for One Off Makery (AUS), Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London, Puppets with Guts (UK), and ‘Rabbitsss’ with media artist Jon Cohrs (USA), and a collaboration with NY composer and instrument-maker Bradford Reed.
A finalist in the 2020 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards for Excellence in a Regional Area, Rae’s most recent large-scale environmental research project ‘Bee-Sharp Honeybee’ culminated in a performance at the Natimuk Frinj Biennale, for string orchestra, a live honeybee hive and realtime animated visuals projected onto giant wheat silos in rural Australia, supported by the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund, Creative Victoria, The Pollination Project and a cohort of private funders. A short documentary film by Deacon Warner (USA) about the creative process of Bee-Sharp Honeybee toured international environmental film festivals during 2018-2019.
Rae’s past album releases include Never Stops to Wait (2005), several Live Eavesdropping CDs & DVDs (2003-2007), Autumn Never Fall (2009), Live at The Thornbury Theatre (2010), Heavy Forest Air (2013), Penguins (by Rabbitsss, 2014), Invisible Wilderness Vol I & II (2015), and Captain Matchbox (2016). These accompany ensemble and solo sheet music publications and numerous collaborative recordings alongside acclaimed artists across the globe.