By Edward Kliszus

Works & Process returned to the Guggenheim to present Third Bird by Isaac Mizrahi and Nico Muhly. In this tale of modern times starring the Ostrich as our hero, we meet a flock of characters from a Cat to the Moon. Everyone was essential in this enigmatic, empathetic celebration of each other’s strengths.

Isaac Mizrahi (photo from

Isaac Mizrahi (photo from

Mizrahi’s Homage

Set in Central Park’s 15-acre lawn Sheep Meadow, Third Bird is Mizrahi’s homage to Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. To the audience’s delight, the story unfolds as an unexpected character, a large fluffy Ostrich, appears in the park.

Creative, Charming Repartée

Isaac Mizrahi is a famed performer, author, actor, TV show host, clothing designer, and producer. He continues to bring his creative, charming repartée to the stages of Manhattan’s Café Carlyle, Joe’s Pub, 54Below, The Guggenheim, and more.

Charming Children’s Story

The music for Third Bird was composed by Nico Muhly, who partnered with Mizrahi for this production. Their collaboration launched an imaginative and charming children’s story set to music that evolved from the Romantic melodic notions of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Third Bird is a contemporized homage to Prokofiev set to urbane, eclectic musical structures that evoke rich sonic and rhythmic timbres to depict characters and scenes.

Experimental Music Elements

Muhly is an American contemporary classical composer known for uniquely blending classical, minimalist, and experimental music elements. His work for this production often featured complex, layered textures, subtle melodies, and dissonant harmonic language challenging traditional tonality.

Urbane and Eclectic

Noting the sophisticated timbres and rhythmic angular motifs used in Third Bird, Muhly’s music draws inspiration from the works of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Benjamin Britten, and others. Muhly’s urbane and eclectic approach to composing Third Bird was innovative and steeped in tradition.

Delightfully Whimsical

The Cat (Zach Gonder) danced to playful melodic and rhythmic themes superimposed over sustained discordant strings. The bass clarinet furtively depicted the delightfully whimsical character of the Ostrich.

Nico Muhly. Photo by Heidi Solander

Nico Muhly. Photo by Heidi Solander

High-Wire Acts of Musical Bravura

Woodwind solos were virtuosic with high-wire acts of musical bravura! Overall, it was an evening of charming storytelling. The musicians, lighting, dance, costumes, scenery, music, and narration were splendid.

Third Bird by Isaac Mizrahi and Nico Muhly

Narration, Direction, Design, and Libretto by Isaac Mizrahi
Music by Nico Muhly
Conducted by Michael P. Atkinson
Choreography by John Heginbotham
Lighting Design by Brandon Stirling Baker

Dance Heginbotham

Moon John Heginbotham
Zookeep Kara Chan
Ostrich Daniel Pettrow
Ornithologist Derrick Arthur
Grandfather Norton Owen
Duck Marjorie Folkman
Cat Zach Gonder
Birdie Maxfield Haynes

Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect

Anjali Shinde, Flute
Joseph Jordan, Oboe/English Horn
Bixby Kennedy, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Marty Tung, Bassoon
Oliver Xu, Percussion
Chelsea Wang, Piano
Rubén Rengel, Violin 1
Mari Lee, Violin 2
Isabella Bignasca, Viola
Thapelo Masita, Cello
Marguerite Cox, Bass

Runtime about 30 minutes

The Guggenheim

1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128
(Between 88th and 89th Streets)

Works & Process Ticket information at or

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Christmas at Corpus Christi ChurchThe American Symphony Orchestra and Händel’s Judas MaccabaeusPeter & the Wolf by Works & ProcessTranscendent Triumph and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, and Musica Sacra at Carnegie Hall.