Bee-Sharp Honeybee

Bee-Sharp Honeybee

Rae Howell composer
Sunwrae String Orchestra | Rae Howell conductor

Release Date: August 25, 2023
Catalog #: NV6539
Format: Digital
21st Century
String Orchestra

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.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Bee-Sharp I Rae Howell Sunwrae String Orchestra | Rae Howell, conductor 10:17
02 Bee-Sharp II Rae Howell Sunwrae String Orchestra | Rae Howell, conductor 3:26
03 Bee-Sharp III Rae Howell Sunwrae String Orchestra | Rae Howell, conductor 2:30
04 Bee-Sharp IV Rae Howell Sunwrae String Orchestra | Rae Howell, conductor 16:08

Sunwrae String Orchestra, conducted by Rae Howell

Violin 1
Zac Johnston, Natasha Conrau, Cameron Jamieson, Jessica Bell

Violin 2
Isabel Hede, Sophie Dunn, Ruby Paskas, Leigh Raymond

Phoebe Green, Biddy Connor, Aaron Wyatt

Campbell Banks, Gemma Kneale, Oscar Woinarski

Double Bass
Miranda Hill, Vivian Qu

Recorded January 12, 2023 at Empire Music Studios in Melbourne, Australia
Producer Rae Howell
Recording Engineer Trevor Carter
Editing & Mixing Engineer Alex Stinson

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

This album has been made possible with the support of Creative Victoria (Australia), with special thanks to the bees of BUUKAAR WAARUUNG Boutique Apiary.

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Chris Robinson

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Rae Howell

Rae Howell

Composer, Conductor

Rae Howell is an award-winning Australian composer and multi-instrumentalist. She is founding director of Sunwrae, a music performance and production enterprise, and works across a vast range of music concert hall and multi-artform projects. She has studied music in Melbourne, London, and New York; she lectures in music and creative industry subjects; and has worked professionally in many places across the globe, producing a large catalog of original music albums, publications, and collaborative recordings.

Sunwrae String Orchestra

Sunwrae String Orchestra


Founded in 2001 in Melbourne Australia, Sunwrae features some of the finest musicians from Australia, hand-picked for their expertise in music performance, improvisation, and individual style. Directed by Rae Howell, and flexible in their instrumental line-up, Sunwrae captivate audiences through diverse music and multi-artform projects, residencies, and performance experiences beyond the conventional music concert.

Festival appearances include Brisbane Festival, Camden Haven Music Festival, Apollo Bay Festival, Natimuk Frinj Biennale, Bright Spring Festival, and Golden Plains Festival in Australia; i = u Festival, and London Contemporary Music Festival (UK); and SxSW Festival (USA). Additional appearances include ABC Classic FM’s Sunday Live and ABC TV’s Sunday Arts, the Famous Spiegeltent, Memo Hall and The Thornbury Theatre in Melbourne, and the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House in Vietnam.

Sunwrae albums have been broadcast on ABC Classic FM, ABC Radio National, BBC Radio 3, WNYC, NPR, plus a myriad of regional and community radio stations globally. Performing “little symphonies for the contemporary population,” live Sunwrae performances are a rare treat, crossing the boundaries of art-music, classical, jazz, popular, and cinematic styles with an immediacy and vibrancy rarely experienced in contemporary ensemble music.

Sunwrae have performed on albums including BEE-SHARP HONEYBEE (2023), Sketches (2018), Captain Matchbox (2016), Invisible Wilderness Vol I & II (2015), Live at The Thornbury Theatre (2010), Autumn Never Fall (2009), Eavesdropping: Live at St Stephen’s (2006), and Never Stops to Wait (2005). Other collaborative releases include Heavy Forest Air (2013) and Rabbitsss’ Penguins (2014).


The heart of Bee-Sharp Honeybee stems from community, social impact, and how we as humans are intrinsically linked to the land and affected by environmental concerns, with the objective of engaging with, educating, and raising public awareness of bee culture, bee research, and the importance of pollinators to human survival.

The project began working in collaboration with hobby beekeepers, scientists and researchers, musicians, animators, and a filmmaker, with an immersion in field recordings, spectrograms, and frequency graphs. Musical starting points grew from the technical data and after extensive development, Bee-Sharp Honeybee gradually emerged. The initial score was a collection of hand-illustrated graphic music sketches, featuring intricate rhythm and pitch patterns of the bee buzz, the “waggle dance,” and was based on the way a beehive functions (the main objective was that the musicians read directly from the score, encouraging them to interact, listen carefully, experiment with pitch and texture possibilities, and engage with more eye contact). The final score and parts were developed on manuscript for ease of the overall live performance production.

An award winning short documentary of the-making-of Bee-Sharp Honeybee, directed by Deacon Warner (United States), toured international film festivals during 2018-2019, and the world premiere live performance of the work garnered Rae Howell a finalist in the 2020 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards in Australia.

Bee-Sharp Honeybee is directed by Howell, with live performance projections by CJ. Bees by Mother Nature.

Produced by Sunwrae, Bee-Sharp Honeybee has been supported by Creative Victoria, APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund, The Finzi Trust, The Eric Stokes Trust, The Pollination Project, and a large cohort of Sunwrae Subscribers. With thanks to UMN Bee Research Lab, The Bee Squad, Deacon Warner, Jenny Warner, Film North, Kurt Weimer, Celia and Ron Wirth, Ex Ponto Productions, Little Projector Company, Phoebe Green, Zac Johnston, The Nati Bee Man, and BUUKAAR WAARUUNG Boutique Apiary.


World Premiere of Bee-Sharp Honeybee at the Natimuk Frinj Biennale