recess radio program

12/15/03
Holiday Lullabies
    by John Cech

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Your hearing a little from "Nia, Nia," a lullaby sung by Alessandra Belloni -- a timeless song that's been used for centuries to sooth restless infants and calm distressed adult nerves in the region of southern Italy called Puglia. The actual word for lullaby comes from the ancient Middle East, where it was used to describe the song that was sung over the cradle as a charm to protect the sleeping infant from the dangers of the night. There are fifteen of these haunting charms on a new CD from Ellipsis Arts called Mediterranean Lullaby -- charms from Spain and Israel, and from the Island of Rhodes and Catalonia.

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Those are the dreamsisters, Molly Conole and Nancy Waldman, on their CD, which brings together another group of lullabies, from a little closer to these shores. There are traditional German songs like "The Sandman, " a portion of which you've just heard, and the Welsh folksong, "All Through the Night." And Ms. Conole and Ms. Waldman include American popular songs, like "Mockingbird," and "Baby Mine" from Walt Disney's "Dumbo" and the Stephen Foster ballad that gives the CD its title, Beautiful Dreamer.

Whether or not there are babies in your home, this calm yet compelling music , sung in these faraway or familiar tongues may be just the right thing to have playing for your family this month, to create your own, tranquil halcyon days, those quiet islands of time in the middle of the busy holidays. A moment of peace, an evening for rest:

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Copyright 2003 John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."