East End Community, Sophia Brous Wants Your Lullabies

Sophia Brous Melanie Russell

Sophia Brous wants your lullabies. American folk or old English are okay, but more exotic genres and countries of origin are even better. The Austrailian vocalist will be an artist in residence along with David Coulter and Leo Abrahams at the Watermill Center in January to continue their work on “Lullaby Movement,” a project exploring the form in contemporary and historical culture. 

On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Ms. Brous hopes to gather contributions from our area’s rich cultural hodgepodge, which includes Native Americans, English colonists, Polish potato farmers, African Americans, and more recently Latin Americans and Eastern Europeans. The lullabies she collects will become part of a song cycle with choreography, staging, and production design.

Within 10 minutes of beginning the project, Ms. Brous said she was in tears. Berri Apens, a Latvian poet, writer, and former ballerina, described singing a German lullaby to her aunt on her deathbed to console her with a childhood memory. “This first experience told me that this project would not be like any other.”

Many of the examples she has gathered so far seem to focus on food gathering, going to the market, or making meals for the child as a way toward comfort. A Greek Cypriot lullaby actually promotes sleep directly in this excerpt: 

O slumber, thou who takest children,

Take my child, O this one too,

So young, so little, on thy bosom,

Bear it yonder, bring it true

Those who would like to share the lullabies of their family, community, or country can make an appointment by calling (212) 253-7484.