Sleep through my piece, please, composer Max Richter says

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 17, 2015 9:48 AM

By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - People since time immemorial have been dozing off in concert halls. Now British composer Max Richter has written an eight-hour-long piece called "SLEEP" which he says is designed to make people nod off during the performance -- with beds provided.

“It’s an eight-hour lullaby,” Richter, one of Britain's leading contemporary composers, said in a statement released on Wednesday, which adds that the piece, which features electronic sounds and a lulling cello line, is literally "intended to send the listener to sleep".

"It's a piece of nighttime music and I'm hoping people will actually sleep through it," Richter says in a trailer for the piece released on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aFKng8-sc)

"In a way it's a question about how everything is getting faster, all our lives are accelerating and I think many of us feel the need to rest, a point of repose. And that's what this piece is -- an eight hour place to rest," he says.

"SLEEP" will have its world premiere in September in Berlin, in a concert performance lasting from midnight to 8 a.m. for which the audience will be given beds instead of seats, a press statement from Richter's record label, Deutsche Grammophon, said.

An eight-hour digital version that will be released on September 4 is said to be the longest piece of classical music ever recorded.

Richter is quoted in a separate press release as saying that he has long been fascinated by sleep and the amount of time people spend sleeping.

“Sleeping is one of the most important things we all do,” he said. “We spend a third of our lives asleep and it’s always been one of my favorite things, ever since I was a child.”

He says he consulted American neuroscientist David Eagleman while composing the piece, to learn more about how the human brain functions while sleeping.

“For me, 'SLEEP' is an attempt to see how that space when your conscious mind is on holiday can be a place for music to live,” the composer says.

Richter says he was inspired by extended works written by other modern composers, including John Cage, Terry Riley and LaMonte Young.

In that category, Cage probably holds the record with his "Organ2/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) with a version that started at St Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, Germany in 2001 scheduled to last for 639 years, ending in 2640, according to the website www.aslsp.org

(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Louise Heavens)