Tom Huizenga

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.

In 1970, a young business school grad — and failed opera singer — named David Gockley landed a job as business manager of the Houston Grand Opera. After two years, at age 27, he moved up to general director.

Over the next 30 years, Gockley transformed the company into a hothouse for new and revived American opera. During his tenure in Houston, Gockley presented 35 world premieres, including John Adams' Nixon in China, Stewart Wallace's Harvey Milk, Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place, Mark Adamo's Little Women and three operas by Carlisle Floyd.

Barry Douglas knows a few things about handing down traditions. In this Tiny Desk performance, he passes along the musical heritage of his Irish homeland in the form of old Celtic songs he's arranged for solo piano.

When the New York City Opera (NYCO) announced its final performances and imminent bankruptcy in September 2013, opera lovers, not just in Manhattan, were shocked.

The Estonians are serious about singing. The power of human voices practically propelled the small Baltic country to independence during the Soviet era. In the late 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Estonians routinely gathered to perform forbidden patriotic songs. The events energized the nation, leading to what was called the "Singing Revolution."

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

When critics talk about Yuja Wang, they continue to reach for superlatives.

Violinist Lara St. John has attitude in spades. It's in the sound of her playing and in the arc of her career.

The Chicago new-music ensemble Eighth Blackbird is on a roll. Just after winning its fourth Grammy in February, the group received a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions; the prize came with a $400,000 grant. Hand Eye — Eighth Blackbird's second album in seven months — just came out, and this season the group marks its 20th anniversary. The celebration includes an extensive tour, with world premieres of music by Bryce Dessner and David T.

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