The Swarm

‘The Swarm’ is a dynamic new immersive opera and sound project about honey bee swarms. It narrates the story of the perilous journey of migrating honey bees through a city with their queen after she is deposed by her daughter and forced to leave the hive, taking half the colony with her. In their search for a new home they encounter a deadly extractor fan, a thunder storm and a fierce debate over two potential sites to build a hive. With just one last meal of honey for energy, how will they reach a collective decision on where to relocate?

This innovative 60 minute work will bring audiences closer to nature, stretching the boundaries of choral music, voices and movement. The 9 piece choir representing the bees, will be combined with a soundscape comprising field recordings and composition evoking the urban landscape, composed by Auclair.

The behaviour of bees is used as a paragon for modern social science. Their modes of collective decision making have been recognised by our society and have much to teach us about smoothly functioning groups, especially ones capable of exploiting fully the power of democratic decision making. Additionally, the bees provide a fertile subject for the musical composition. Sound and vibration are central to their communication and cooperation in the beehive.

Inspired by the bees, 'The Swarm' will explore the fluctuating magnetism between the individual and the collective, which will be expressed physically, spatially and musically.

The devising process has involved extensive consultation with beekeepers, Behavioural Scientists, Neuroscientists and Biologists and will involve new compositions. 

The piece was premiered in September 2016 in the Shaft of the Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe and The Car Park Space in Liverpool.  It was performed again at VAULT Festival 2017 between 8-12 February 2017.  

The project has been generously supported by Arts Council England, RVW Trust and support from Tony Mackintosh and Criona Palmer and friends.


Queen Bee                                                                                   Director of Music Heloise Tunstall-Behrens

Sarah Parkes Dow                                                                        Soundscape design Auclair

Heloise Tunstall-Behrens Bay                                                     Director of Movement Roswitha Gerlitz

Rosa Slade Koh Vah Li Zay                                                           Mix and Mastering Will Worsley

Luisa Gerstein Chuki                                                                    Movement/Performance Coach Amy Cooper

Nouria Bah Eep Non Yoo Ee                                                         Music Assistant Loretta Tosson

Liv Stones Mah Tah Oon Koo Ye                                                   Communications (social media) Marcus Gordon

Tanya Auclair Tah Koh Voh Pa                                                      

Natalie Pela Yoh Zoh Ovoo                                                           

Sarah Anderson Aysh