22 Jun 2018

Prime Minister’s baby gifted special lullaby performance by NZSO

From Upbeat, 3:56 pm on 22 June 2018

One of the world’s most famous lullabies, Brahms’s Wiegenlied / Cradle Song has been performed especially for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s brand new baby in German and Te Reo Māori.

The sound for this performance was recorded by RNZConcert. 

New Zealander singer Simon O’Neill, an internationally renowned Wagnerian tenor, was home for a series of concerts with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra when he agreed to record the piece shortly before his Wellington performance. He set the Māori lyrics to Brahms’s comforting music in a couple of hours and learned it on the plane trip to Wellington.

Moe mai ra e te tau 
Ki te mo-e mai e 
Whakarongo mai nei 
Nga kupu aroha 

Ma te Ariki nui 
He tiaki i a koe 
Atawhai manaaki 
I te aroha nei 

Simon, a father of three, recalled that when his twins were born he struggled to remember any of the words to famous lullabies and ended up singing Winterstürme from Wagner’s Die Walküre (as delicately as he could) when he held them in his arms.

O’Neill recommends that Clarke Gayford and Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern should sing anything and everything to their new child – “surround those wee ears with music and tune”.

Explore: Lullabies for the PM's "happy surprise"

Kiwi tenor Simon O'Neill

Kiwi tenor Simon O'Neill Photo: Supplied

Babies benefit from singing, and so can mothers. Dr Shannon de L’Etoile has spent years studying the link between mothers, babies and singing and her research has found that singing can help improve maternal mood and post-natal depression.

You don’t need to be a world-class tenor to sing to your baby, although singing at a higher pitch helps. It’s thought to convey “more emotionality – more contentment, more happiness, and more lovingness”. According to Shannon their ability to hear lower pitches continues to develop until the age of 10. But that doesn’t mean that those with lower voices, including dads, shouldn’t sing. We hope Clarke Gayford’s been fishing around for a few lullabies. Something with a good hook helps.

RNZ Music has recommended some local sounds for little ears