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Opera / Music Theatre

Karen Wimhurst has a large portfolio of innovative, small scale chamber opera, multimedia works and site specific performance pieces. Intrigued by challenging ,wide ranging subject matters, the composer often creates her own librettos drawn from found texts in collaboration with a range of cross disciplinary collaborators.  

A selection of works...

Heart Of The Matter

Heart Of The Matter is a chamber opera composed by Karen Wimhurst for piano and solo bass voice. Packing all the punch of a grand opera this performance is a tale for our times in which desire for fast and hard living.....grasping for the recalibrated in the light of eco-hedonism.  

The chamber opera Heart Of The Matter was created as part of a bijoux performance piece for arts and comtemporary music festivals.  The show opens with Pulse the prologue written by Helen Porter and performed by Karen Wimhurst followed by the chamber opera.



Composed during residency with the MoDiP (the Museum of Design in Plastics). Synthetica is a fractured sung narrative exploring the Midas touch of our times……plastics….so much made possible within the heartbeat of environmental catastrophe.   


Premiered at Tête-à-Tête Opera festival 2019, now available online.

"dramatic, compelling, thought provoking and challenging the opera Synthetica is brilliantly conceived for a soprano soloist, a trumpet player, and DJ mixing tracks live by the composer Karen Wimhurst.”  Andrew Burns Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

More at the Synthetica website click here

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Freedom Bread And Peace

A large scale multi media work in collaboration with Arts University Bournemouth, Soundstorm and Bournemouth Arts by the Sea 2015.  


Small chamber ensemble, choir, marching brass quintet and narrative chorus. Crucial snapshots of the rise and fall of Russian

communism presented through a texture of sung and spoken word (drawn from poets of the time and interviews with ordinary people from the communist bloc).  These form part of a score which incorporates a wide range of musical references (Russian marches, Ukrainian and Hungarian Gypsy music, the Plastic People rock band, the Internationale etc.). 

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Small scale music theatre piece in collaboration with entomologist Peter Smithers, University of Plymouth, celebrating the life and works of entomologist Miriam Rothschild. Performances Tete a Tete New Opera Festival 2015. Edinburgh Festival 2015, Fabrications Festival King College London 2015, Bournemouth University 2016. Commissioned by Electric Voice Theatre (EVT), Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University and ENTO13


More information on the Electric Voice Theatre website here

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Fragility of Flight

Fine art film and soundtrack with artist Keith McIntyre.  Conceived on North Uist in Scotland.  Touring with clarinet trio 2008 Western Isles.  Poole Study Gallery Oct 2008;  Plymouth Darwin Festival 2009.  Grant from the Scottish Arts Council

Fragility of Flight

Darwin and the Barnacle

An intimate piece fusing music theatre, visual art and scientific research, portraying Darwin’s eight year obsession with barnacles. While participating in Dr. Gully’s strange water cure, Darwin struggles to unlock the riddle of this abberant species to move him towards one of the most spectacular breakthroughs ever known. Artist Keith McIntyre and composer Karen Wimhurst collaborate with writer Rebecca Stott in a work inspired by Stott’s wonderful novel Darwin and the Barnacle. Premiered March 2009

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01 Proof
02 Illness
03 Death
04 Reflections

Tipping Point    

Experimental, comic circus piece communicating climate change issues to a family audience. Developed with writer Amanda Boulter and Winchester University. Trialled Sept. 2009, solar powered Big Top. Touring 2011-13.

A Tipping Point is a one- hour, small-scale circus show for children and families.  It offers positive ways of talking about and responding to climate change as high octane clowning, custard-pie and clown car tricks leave the children shouting with excitement.  Art, music and circus skills workshops are offered in the lead up to the show so the whole community can get involved.  Whether you are a council, transition town, school network or festival, this show is a great way of engaging people with your carbon cutting agendas and combating climate change fatigue.


The 4k Plot

Experimental fine art/music/dance collaboration with accordionist Karen Tweed, artist Keith McIntyre and dancer, Kerry Fletcher. Opened at the Baltic Galleries, Newcastle November 2004.  Commissioned by the Sage Gateshead and the PRS foundation.  Album release Dec. 2005.

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07 Sky Viewing
08 Shopping In Celestial Skies
11 First Flight

The Ring Cycle

The Ring Cycle was commission Sea Chained Arts by for the Yarmouth Hippodrome - a Victorian traditional circus venue, was an extravaganza featuring trapeze artist, synchronised swimmers, solo soprano, local choirs and performers.  The Ring Cycle was performed as part of the Norwich and Norfolk Festival 1999

Come Back
The Boy Clown Arrives
10. Battleground
Mermaid's Call
1. Boghorn Tango
2. All Cisterns Go


An extraordinary piece of music –theatre which unveils the Bath Harp, the Boghorn, the Emmersion Beater and the other singular instruments making up the band ‘Up the Spout’. Billed with a sax quartet, the honks, burbles and mellifluous tones of Up the Spout are woven into an original zany jazz score which unleashes a show spiked with humour and hard core plumbing history.


Premiered in Common Ground’s Confluence Project, the show was conceived   when composer Karen Wimhurst decided to take a good long look at the local water pipes and water conservation in the 21st century.  The store room of the local plumbing firm ‘F.Cowley and Sons’ was a land of inspiration and soon local musicians were designing new instruments from old plumbing. After months of hard labour, instrument builder Nick Crump perfected the Boghorn, a four octave instrument with a tuba like boom on the bass end and a thinner, almost reedy like quality in the upper registers.  Since then, other instruments have followed

Dressing The Stone

Music theatre featuring soprano, snare drum and projected sounds of a working mill. An alchemical fairytale.  Commissioned by Common Ground.  Premiere December 1999, Sturminster Mill.  Performances at the Opera festival in Dusseldorf, Maastricht and the Wimborne Festival Autumn 2000.

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