The Owl and the Pussy Cat (1988), for soprano, mezzo, tenor and piano* 

The Pelican Chorus (1993), for soprano, tenor and piano

Abstemious Asses, Zealous Zebras and Others (1994), for mezzo, tenor and piano

Described by the composer as “wurbl inwentions by Edward Lear, boshed to music by Harry Somers,” this trilogy of settings combines one of the eccentric English humourist’s best-known nonsense poems with two other less familiar pieces from his pen. Lear, commonly but erroneously regarded as the inventor of the limerick (in fact, he merely popularized the form in Victorian England), was endlessly creative in his use of the English language, making extensive use of wordplay, alliteration, homonyms, and pure nonsense (or “bosh”). Among countless others, he coined such enigmatically evocative words and phrases as “runcible spoon,” “the great Gromboolian plain,” and “the dolomphious duck,” and even compiled a short dictionary of his verbal inventions (or “wurbl inwentions”). In his settings of these three poems, Somers reveals a delicious sense of musical whimsy that pairs perfectly with Lear’s playful texts. 

*The Owl and the Pussy Cat originally performed February 13, 1989