Rock-a-bye Baby! Music and Beyond Goes Viral

Photos by Anastasia Krachkovskaya / Ottawa Life Magazine cover photo by Paul Couvrette

Ottawa’s Music & Beyond Festival lived up to its name this week when a clip from their annual Christmas concert ignited classical music fans the world over as it went viral on Facebook.

The video features mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta —Ottawa Life Magazine’s cover for December of 2016— along with Montréal violist Marina Thibeault and local pianist Frédéric Lacroix. The trio perform a blissful rendition of the lullaby Geistliches Wiegenlied by Brahms.

Though it was a packed crowd inside Dominion-Chalmers United Church on December 21 for the always popular holiday concert, it is fair to say that this particular moment in the show was played primarily for one person in attendance.

Thibeault’s seven-month-old son Lucian had arisen from his slumber backstage and, in an impromptu moment filled with sweetness and warmth, the child was lovingly held by Giunta as she proceeded to sing him the lullaby.

“As you may know this is one of Brahms most beautiful lullabies,” says Giunta in the just over seven minute clip. The crowd chuckles as Lucian looks out with sleepy-eyed amazement. “It’s a song sung by Mary to the angels to the night of Jesus’ birth. She’s asking them to still the wind and quite the leaves rustling the trees so the baby could sleep.”

Giunta moves closer to her sheet music as she tells the delighted audience that this would be an “experiment of sorts”. If their wee listener wasn’t interested they would simply begin the performance again. No problem there as Lucian, like those in the church pews, was help captive by a voice that seemed to channel those aforementioned angels.

“It was such a special part of the concert,” stated Music and Beyond’s director Julian Armour. “Young Lucien was calm and attentive, watching his mother and occasionally looking out at the audience. It’s an absolutely beautiful performance, too!”

Giunta’s performance had the extra challenge of balancing a baby in her arms while balancing the notes, a feat not lost to some online.

“That was quite the arm workout too holding the baby over seven minutes! Plus trying to use and control her diaphragm while having the baby against her like that would be difficult! She's amazing!” praised Jeanette Carol Munroe on Britain’s Classic FM Facebook posting.

As of this writing, the video has charmed over 1,050,000 and has been shared 12,563 times.

Comments range from classical music fans marveling at Giunta’s stunning voice to mothers sharing memories of singing their own children to sleep.

“Watched several times now with a goofy smile and tears of joy and pride for my fellow mamas and musicians,” wrote Karina Valdez. “Thank you for sharing this beautifully touching music and experience.”

Lucian’s mother was quick to chime in as the comments grew with a thank you from her son and a photo of the baby holding her viola. While the tune didn’t lull the child to sleep, one commenter posted about what very well be a musical future ahead now that he’s already had a taste of the stage.

“If that baby doesn’t grow up with an interest in music I’ll eat my hat!”

All three musicians will be performing at the 2018 Music and Beyond festival, which runs from July 4 to July 18. Lucian reprising his cameo optional?