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Classical “Lullabies” Soothe the Soul


Capital City Concerts’ Karen Kevra says calming classical music helps make for sweet dreams

My earliest musical childhood memory is of my Egyptian immigrant grandmother and my mom singing a sweet repetitive song to me in Arabic. Music begins at home. Songs from my mother.

Every mother has their inner musician drawn out when we cradle our newborn baby in arms and coax it to sleep with sotto voce songs. Who can resist a lullaby? Soothing, repetitive night music that takes the edge off the darkness and ushers in sleep.

When my son was a baby, I sang to him constantly and made up dozens of spontaneous songs –repetitive, silly rhyming things. Most are forgotten now but they served their purpose, and a few have endured decades later. Every night at bedtime, until my son was about ten, I would crawl into bed with him and sing a repetition of a couple of dozen songs. On those busy evenings when I tried to slip away without singing them all, he would call me out, “Mama, you forgot The Blacksmith Song…”

I had my own lullaby ritual for a number of years. I kept a small boom box next to my bed and fell asleep listening to Claudio Arrau’s eloquent Chopin Nocturnes. They are seared into my synapses. Haven’t we all experienced that powerful cognition that comes with the edge of sleep?

Ten years ago, when my mom was dying, my twin sister and I sheltered with her for a number of weeks hospice-style in her home in Lincoln, Vermont. The hospice nurse encouraged me to play my flute but what felt most natural was to lie in bed with my mom, flipping through her beloved hymnal and singing her favorite hymns as quietly as I could. Songs for my mother. The musical circle of life.

While we are sheltering in place, embrace the chance to experience the serene qualities of music. I’ve created a Spotify playlist which includes some of my favorite night-time music: Some of those Chopin Nocturnes perfectly played by Claudio Arrau, Murray Perahia’s poetic Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Also Saint-Saëns evocative “Swan” from his Carnival of the Animals, Mozart’s heart-breakingly beautiful Adagio from the G major Violin Concerto #3, pianist Jeffrey Chappell’s composition Aphrodite, so sultry and gossamer…and much more. The set opens with Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma’s sublime Stephen Foster lullaby, Slumber, My Darling, one of the most tender and beautiful things I know.

Hoping this brings you peaceful moments and sweet dreams.

Here is the link to the music:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/49IC0wZxfU2L303T5sRnC0 If you don’t have a Spotify account you can open one for free using this link: Free Spotify

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