Polly Rhythm was hatched in 1965 and became a member of our family only three months later. He began his vocal studies with Elly Ameling and Beverly Sills immediately upon arriving in our living room, where I played recordings of those singers incessantly, along with recordings of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Story of a Soldier. I was 10 years old and played piano all day, and so Polly got the idea early on that music was to be his profession. When he wasn’t climbing up the living room curtains, chewing on cardboard tubes or eating, he was singing coloratura passages from Mozart operas and lyrical phrases from Bach cantatas.
In the early days of my teaching at the Juilliard Pre-College Division, I occasionally brought Polly into a classroom. He would sit on a shelf and sing to the students. He became the icon or living logo for our polyrhythm studies. When I began to work at Lincoln Center in the 1990s, I got to know Beverly Sills and told her about Polly Rhythm imitating her. She loved the story but never met Polly in person, or I should say in bird. Very recently, Polly has developed a taste for Beethoven string quartets and has chewed up several of my scores. You may have heard of dog-eared scores…these are parrot-beaked.
Polly loves to get on stage and perform, and he hates waiting in the wings. In addition to singing, Polly enjoys chewing cardboard, ripping up scores, slicing string beans in half, and listening to Performance Today.
Here are a few videos of Polly Rhythm in action: