Esther Sibiude, Esra, November 14, 2021, Queens Museum. Image courtesy of the Queens Museum. Photo by Kuo-Heng Huang.

Esther Sibiude

The Song of Dirt Stammers Our Tongue

On View: June 15-June 17, 2023

The Kitchen at Westbeth (163B Bank Street, 4th Floor Loft)


8:30 pm, doors at 8:00 pm

The Song of Dirt Stammers Our Tongue co-presented by The Kitchen and Montez Press Radio, is a radio operetta directed by its librettist Esther Sibiude, with music created and arranged in collaboration with an ensemble of five players: vocalist Lucia della Paolera, violist Justine Lugli, cellist Timothy Rusterholz, organist Thomas Hobson Williams playing the synthesizer, and Sibiude playing the harp.

As in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, each of the instruments in this new work illustrates a character or theme from the poetic text—a blade of grass, a second, a ray of sunshine, a leaf. Musical threads weave together the journey of a man who belongs to the night sky, but who falls to Earth one evening while asleep. Unfamiliar with life on this planet, and generally disoriented, his meanderings lead him to New York, where he has to adjust to the city’s temporality. The piece will be semi-staged and performed live with musicians wearing costumes inspired by the natural world. The 40 minute medley of new compositions by the group set to original text by Sibiude merges improvisation with pop, folk, sacred and classical pieces. Production design by Esther Sibiude and Jett Strauss. Costumes by Myranda Gilles, additional Production design (leaves) and hair by Celia Lesh. Make up by Zoe Kestan. Photo documentation during rehearsal by Oto Gillen.

This performance is organized as part of The Kitchen x Montez Press Radio's 12-Month Residency.


Esther Sibiude is an artist, writer and harpist working in New York. Recent performances that she wrote, directed and played harp in include "Esra" a live staged adaptation of a radio play, performed in the panorama of New York City at the Queens museum and "Nightshade" co-written with Colleen Billing and played at Montez Press Radio's performance space in Chinatown, New York.

Lucia della Paolera, mezzo-soprano, lives and works in NYC. She is director and vocalist of "Child of the Church Productions," a site-specific series of experimental staged music performances in NYC churches, combining a wide range of music, old and new. After its recent premiere at Saint Peter's Church in May 2023, the most recent work in the series, "Spirit and Soul Become Confused," will be performed at Roulette, Brooklyn in Fall 2023.

Thomas Hobson Williams is a New York-based collaborative pianist, organist, and choral director. He holds the M.Mus. from the Mason Gross School of the Arts of Rutgers University-New Brunswick and the B.Mus. from Shorter University in Rome, GA, with additional summer studies in past years at Brevard Music Center and Westminster Choir College. He currently serves as Minister of Music at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, and is a past dean of the American Guild of Organists - Brooklyn Chapter. Some previous posts of note include Organist/Choir Director at Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church in Brooklyn, NY, Minister of Music at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Monmouth Junction, NJ, staff accompanist at Shorter University (his alma mater), and organist for the First Presbyterian Church of Dalton, GA.

Justine Lugli is an artist and violist based in NYC.

Timothy Rusterholz is a composer, cellist and martial artist working in Brooklyn. Ongoing projects include Ashcan Orchestra, Terra Symphony Orchestra/Quartet, IKARI, and Platypus Revenge. Rusterholz is also known as Shi Heng Bi at USA Shaolin Temple as a teacher and practitioner of kung fu, tai chi, and qigong.

Jett Strauss is a sculptor and designer working in New York.

Myranda Gillies is an artist living and working in New York. She works across disciplines with a focus on fiber arts, textiles, and costume. Her work has been exhibited at CLEARING (New York), Susan Inglett Gallery, Jack Hanley Gallery, and White Columns, among others.

Celia Lesh is an artist, a gardener and psychotherapist in training located in New York City.


The Kitchen’s programming is supported by grants from The Amphion Foundation, Inc., Arison Art Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Cowles Charitable Trust, Ford Foundation, Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, Inc., The Willem de Kooning Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, Marta Heflin Foundation, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Open Society Foundation, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Simons Foundation, and Teiger Foundation; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Season programming is made possible in part with support from The Kitchen’s Board of Directors and The Kitchen Leadership Fund. Learn more about the Leadership Fund.