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Object Songs (2014)

Voice & Chamber Ensemble, 8 minutes

Object Songs (2014) are a collaboration with illustrator and author Maira Kalman, a longtime friend and source of constant inspiration and delight. These songs are a response to a room Maira curated in New York’s Cooper Hewitt Museum, as well as two books she wrote about the objects she chose to be in the room. The emotional centerpiece of the room is Abraham Lincoln’s funeral shroud, as well as his pocket watch, which was made to tick again in 2014. That ticking is behind the first song, which urges us: “take your time.” The second song, about a shoe, urges us, quickly, “go out and walk.” The third song is a slow meditation about spoons and the emotional possibilities of soup. The fourth, fifth, and sixth songs (performed without pause) go back to the written word: the text for the fourth is gibberish, abstractly derived from an almost illegibly complicated calligraphic page written by Jan Dan de Velde in 1605. The fifth is from an anonymous needlework sampler, saying, “Amor nos une” (love unites us), and is sung unaccompanied. The sixth song sets Maira’s text — found in her book My Favorite Things — about the power of objects and rooms in our memories and in our sense of ourselves.

Music –Nico Muhly
Text – Maira Kalman
Soprano – Anne-Carolyn Bird
Viola – Nadia Sirota
Violin – Rob Moose
Clarinet – Hideaki Aomori
Trumpet – CJ Camerieri 

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