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Alessio Bax: Tiny Desk Concert

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. (iTunes) (Amazon)

Set List

  • 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
  • * with pianist Lucille Chung

    Credits

    Producers: Tom Huizenga, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: Brandon Chew/NPR.

    For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

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