The Oratorio for a Million Souls

Nigel Helyer (Artist), Jon Drummond (Contributor)

Research output: Non-traditional research outputDigital or Visual products


The Oratorio for a Million Souls is a major feature of the European Capital of Culture, Leeuwarden (Fryslan) 2018 Silence of the Bees programme. The project consists of bee listening architectures constructed in three European botanical gardens, located in Buitenpost (Fryslan) and Emden and Oldenburg (Germany).

The structures were built by landscape design volunteers from the Nordwin College in Leeuwarden and the artist worked in close collaboration with Jon Drummond to create both the sensor hive and audio system as well as new musical compositions for wind ensembles.

Physically each Oratorio is constructed in wattle and daub and is based upon the form of a traditional woven straw beehive (a Skepp in English). The hemispherical interior of the Oratorio provides a special acoustic architecture that resonates with the domed roofs of Cathedrals and Mosques.

The Oratorio structures are technologically simple and robust, each of the three Oratorio listening spaces contain two sensor-hives equipped with small high quality microphones as well as digital-sensors that collect data on Bee movement, temperature and humidity and this data is also converted into sound patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeeuwarden, Netherlands
PublisherSonicObjects; SonicArchitecture
Size6m x 6m x 4.5m three structures
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Public Art
  • Interactive art
  • Art and science
  • Environmental art
  • Cultural Festival
  • European Capital of Culture


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