EcoCentrics - Confronting environmental issues with live performance and music


Karen Wimhurst, Keith McIntyre, Rebecca Stott 

An intimate piece fusing music theatre, visual art, the natural world and scientific research. In it, the rational discourse of biological science is revealed as passionate endeavour and communion with nature ; theories are shot through with intuitive self; the thread of empirical evidence closely woven with personal discovery.  All this and barnacles as well!! Darwin’s struggle to unlock the riddle of this aberrant species led him towards one of the most spectacular breakthroughs ever known.  His letters trace this eight- year obsession with this creature the size of a pin-head (!), at the same charting one of the most formative periods of his adult life.  When set to music, these writings contribute new insight into the most influential theory of our times. 
An hour in length, the performance is a thrilling, virtuosic two hander by baritone Dean Robinson  (Darwin) and cellist Sophie Harris (Emma). The zany, humerous and botanically accurate projections of McIntyre combine with Wimhurst’s eclectic musical style in a unique language of their own. 

The collaboration with writer Rebecca Stott and her wonderful novel ‘Darwin and the Barnacle’ underpins the whole work. 

McIntyre and Wimhurst

Karen Wimhurst and Keith McIntyre have a long history of collaborative work.

Their collaborative pieces include;

  • ‘Anna Campbell’ – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 1987 (a multi-media production based on the Gaelic ballad, written by Norman MacDonald.)

  • ‘Jock Tamsons Bairns’ – Tramway, Glasgow (opening event for 1990 City of Culture) and documentary for the Southbank show.

  • ‘Songs for the Falling Angel’ ‘A Requiem for Lockerbie’ – Edinburgh International Festival and Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow 1991 writer Douglas Lipton.  On ehour documentary for ITV on the fourth anniverasary of the Lockerbie crash.

  • ‘Cauld Blast Orchestra’ CD design for the ‘Savage Dance’ and ‘Durghas Feast’ albums

  • ‘New Constellations for Wind, Sole and Drawing Instruments’ 2004 – BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (produced and commissioned by the SAGE Gateshead.)

  • Darwin and the Barnacle 2009 A chamber opera commissioned by the Plymouth Darwin Festival

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The Team


The Australian bass Dean Robinson studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester with Patrick McGuigan and Robert Alderson. He was awarded the Robin Kaye prize for Opera and was a recipient of several major scholarships from the Peter Moores Foundation.

Since graduating in 1995 he has a appeared as principal guest artist with The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, Opera North and The Netherlands Opera in repertoire ranging from Monteverdi and Mozart to Verdi and Wagner. Festival appearances include Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and Garsington Festival Opera. For Mid Wales Opera he has appeared in La Boheme, Rigoletto and Don Giovanni.

He is a highly regarded concert artist in repertoire covering Bach, Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Berlioz, Elgar and Mendelssohn. He has sung under the direction of many distinguished conductors including Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Colin Davis, Leonard Slatkin, Kent Nagano, Antonio Pappano, Sir Colin Davis and Sir Richard Armstrong. His recordings include Masetto (Don Giovanni) for Chandos and Duca d’Argile (Il prigione d’Edimborgo) for Opera Rara. On film he sings the role of First Officer in John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer, and Goffredo in Judith Wiers’ Armida.

Plans include his Australian debut as Saul in David et Jonathas for Pinchgut Opera, Sydney.

Sophie Harris, cello, studied with William Pleeth, then at Chethams School Of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music, winning the Sir John Barbirolli Prize, the Terence Weil Prize, and two Martin Music Trust Scholarships.

She spent five years with the award-winning Smith Quartet, and left to concentrate on a solo career, working with eminent composers including Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman and Steve Reich, and diverse talents such as Kevin Volans, Django Bates and Egberto Gismonte. She collaborated with composer Jocelyn Pook to create and perform the solo cello track for the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s film “Eyes Wide Shut” and with Gavin Bryars on a specially commissioned trio for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Sophie Harris has had several works commissioned for her, and plays a wide repertoire in her extensive performances, CD recordings and frequent radio broadcasts with many of Britain's leading chamber ensembles- including the Brodsky Quartet, the Balanescue Quartet, the Hilliard Ensemble and the Gavin Bryars Ensemble.

Currently Sophie is the cellist in the Duke Quartet, Her cello is made by Daniel Parker in 1730.

Under exclusive contract
John Owen at Owen White Management, 59 Lansdowne Place, Hove, East Sussex BN3 1FL

Author Rebecca Stott is Professor Litrature and creative Writing at the Unviersity of East Anglia and is the author of several academic books on Victorian literature and culture, two books of non-fiction, including a partial biography of Charles Darwin, and a cultural history of the oyster. Her first novel, Ghostwalk, is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in the UK, is the launch novel of the new fiction list of Spiegel and Grau in the US (a new division of Random House) and is being translated into 12 different languages including Russian and Chinese. her second novel, The Coral Thief, is published in the UK in August 2009 and in the US in September 2009.

Director, Rhian Hutchings,  was born in Newport, South Wales. She trained at Reading University and The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.  She was staff director at ENO from 2000 to 2003, assisting many directors including Richard Jones, Keith Warner, Neil Armfield and Francesca Zambello.  She has directed work for Raymond Gubbay, Music in the Round, Roayl Welsh College of Music and Drama, WNO MAX, and Shrewsbury Youth Theatre.  Rhian is now director of the MAX department and WNO

Lighting Designer Ace McCarron      Ace McCarron started working in contemporary opera in 1978 with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies group 'The Fires of London'. He has been designing lighting for Music Theatre Wales in Cardiff for the past fifteen years, and also for many other opera producers including Scottish Opera, The Royal Opera House Garden Venture, Opera Vest of Bergen, The State Opera of Tatarstan, Opera Trionfo, Opera de la Monnaie/de Munt, the Scottish Early Music Consort, Psappha, Almeida Opera, Rottedamse Schouwburg, the Innsbrucker Festspiele and Opera du Rhin.He is an associate of Howard Barker's company, 'The Wrestling School', is a Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Arts Council, and is strongly committed to education work, through organizations such as the Royal Welsh College of music and Drama, Music in the Round, Sheffield, the Royal Opera House Education Department, WNO Youth Opera, and OperaMax project, The Royal Northern College of Music, the Royal College of Music, and the Birmingham Conservatoire.

Technical details

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