Program Notes

Lessons of Stone is a choral sound installation in four movements, with music and text by Karen Siegel. It is inspired by the life and artwork of Isamu Noguchi, and was created as site-specific for The Noguchi Museum. It was commissioned in 2020 by The Astoria Choir, directed by artistic director Adam Eggleston, in celebration of the Choir’s 10th anniversary.

The music consists of musical phrases repeated aleatorically, or involving an element of chance, since each singer decides independently when to sing their part. The result is a flowing texture that is slightly different with each performance. Please feel free to wander the museum as you wish, pausing to listen to as much or as little of the music as you desire. The four movements will each be repeated in the same space multiple times, with breaks for the performers to change locations.

You may choose to listen to the different sections of music bleed into each other in the spaces in between the performances. The movement “Fleeting” is about the elasticity of time as experienced by Noguchi when he formed his massive granite sculptures. “Falling” reflects on Noguchi’s experience as a Japanese American during World War II — Noguchi voluntarily entered a concentration camp in solidarity with his fellow Japanese Americans. “Lasting” expresses Noguchi’s affinity for stone as his medium. And “Floating” is a wordless meditation on the quality of light in the second floor galleries.

Words by Karen Siegel

I. Fleeting

A year lasts a moment

A moment lasts a year

II. Floating

(no text; changing vowel sounds)

III. Falling

Falling from light

Falling from strength

Falling from truth

Backwards into darkness

IV. Lasting

When we are gone

They will still be brilliant,

They will still be calm.

When we are gone

They will still have purpose,

They will still have depth.

When we are gone

They will still be living.

They will still be here.

(Mithuna Sivaraman and Julie Waters, soloists)

Performer Credits

Composer and writer Karen Siegel creates innovative, engaging, and meaningful choral and vocal works. Her works are frequently performed by the New York City-based ensemble C4: the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, which she co-founded in 2005. Karen’s choral works are featured on albums by The Crossing (coming Fall 2024), Harmonium Choral Society, the Choir of Trinity College Melbourne, Tonality, and C4. Her works are published by See-A-Dot Music Publishing, by Chestnutoak Press, in The Justice Choir Songbook (Justice Choir, 2017) and in The Singing Book, Fourth Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2024). | @scoresbysiegel

The Astoria Choir - info

Adam Eggleston, artistic director & principal conductor - bio

Christopher Bradshaw, assistant director & collaborative pianist - bio


Lauren Scanio Kelly, alto flute

Yoshi Weinberg, bass flute

Shinjoo Cho, bandoneon - bio

Dudley Raine IV, viola - bio

Nicco Mazziotto, cello

Drew Pitcher, clarinet

Tyler Neidermayer, bass clarinet

Guest Vocalists

Mithuna Sivaraman, soprano 

Julie Waters, soprano

Melissa Bybee, alto

Alexa Rosenberg, alto

Jacob Lyon, tenor

Perry Townsend, tenor

Evan Fountaine, bass

Evan Johnson, bass