June 17, 2016 by TOM HUIZENGA • The practice of lulling a child to sleep through music must be about the oldest tradition imaginable. All parents have wanted their children to sleep at some point, if only to have a little peace and quiet — and to plot strategies for getting their own shuteye.
Pianist Alessio Bax knows all about sleep — and lack thereof. He's a first-time parent, and his 22-month-old daughter Mila is, like any child that age, a handful, not to mention impossibly cute.
For Father's Day, we invited Bax and his daughter behind Bob Boilen's desk for a few lullabies from the award-winning pianist's recent album Lullabies For Mila. Sensing attention from the crowd and the cameras, Mila is anything but sleepy. On the contrary, with her own running commentary — and some fast fingering on a toy keyboard — she does her best to steal the show.
Bax begins with a rendition of J.S. Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze," explaining that the composer asks the performer to do three things at once, which is not unlike the duties a new parent must juggle. Mila's mom, Lucille Chung, joins her husband at the piano for a brief Brahms Waltz (Op. 39 in A-flat) often referred to as a lullaby. As if on cue, Mila eagerly introduces Chung with a sweet "Mama, too." Bax closes with a ravishing Prelude by Rachmaninoff. As the undulating music begins to heat up, Mila pounds away at her own mini-keyboard — that is, until Mom plucks the toy from her lap.
"Lullabies for Mila" is available now
"J.S. Bach (arr. Petri): Sheep May Safely Graze"
"Brahms: Waltz No. 15 in A-flat major, Op. 39"
"Rachmaninoff: Prelude No. 4 in D, Op. 23"
Producers: Tom Huizenga, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: Brandon Chew/NPR.