Music and theatre students team with Center for Pollinator Research on unique project

Butterfly and bee pollinating a flower

Students in the College of Arts and Architecture’s schools of Music and Theatre are collaborating with the Center for Pollinator Research to create a public presentation of electronic music based on pollinator research.

The research and subsequent musical compositions will be completed by students enrolled in MUSIC 458, Electronic Music Composition, taught by Baljinder Sekhon, associate professor of composition, and in collaboration with Curtis Craig, associate professor of sound design in the School of Theatre.

“This course provides a space for music composition, technology, sound design and other various research topics to intersect through collaborative and interdisciplinary projects,” Sekhon said.

During traditional projects, electronic music composition often works with surround sound to create music to fit specific venues. This collaborative program will do the opposite, creating music that gives the sense of being in a specific location, according to Sekhon.

“Through exploring the work of the Center for Pollinator Research, some interesting questions arise,” Sekhon said. “What would it sound like to be in a beehive? What would it sound like to be a flower?”

The idea for the program came from third-year music student Violet Burney. After learning about the lifecycle of bees in a class taught by Christina Grozinger, director of the Center for Pollinator Research, she applied her newfound knowledge to her Composition III course with Sekhon, composing a string quartet titled “Worker of Six Weeks.”

To help make the collaboration a reality, Sekhon and Craig obtained a grant for $6,000 from the Center for Pollinator Research's Apes Valentes program.

“This grant made it possible to not only obtain the needed equipment, but also to collaborate with the Center for Pollinator Research to create works inspired by the sounds of their research,” Sekhon said.

Throughout the course, students will produce video documentation and short papers chronicling the process. The course will conclude with students performing the original compositions at a public concert near the end of the spring 2024 semester.

The project will culminate with students performing original compositions at a public concert during the spring 2024 semester.

Schools and Departments: School of Music
Unit Research: A&A Sustainability
Architecture Clusters: Sustainability (SUS)