In 2015 the composer Max Richter premiered Sleep, a landmark 8.5-hour musical recording played overnight to sleeping audiences. The landmark piece, a live incarnation of his 2015 album of the same name, was premiered in London (becoming the longest single continuous piece of music ever broadcast live on the radio) and has since been performed around the world in a variety of stunning venues including the Sydney Opera House, Grand Park in Los Angeles, Kraftwerk Berlin, the Philharmonie de Paris and at the Great Wall of China.
To mark World Sleep Day 2021 on Friday, 19th March, renowned composer and activist Max Richter invites people from around the world to join him in a collective moment of meditative reflection with a special one-hour listening experience on his hugely popular Sleep app. His acclaimed Sleep documentary will also be available in multiple countries worldwide.
Max aims to bring together listeners around the world in a collective moment of musical reflection. The piece provides an apt soundtrack for these times of uncertainty and lockdown – when hours seemingly stretch into the distance. Sleep offers a mindful way to focus on the collective experience of Sleep with Max Richter and his creative partner Yulia Mahr’s ‘manifesto for a slower pace of existence’
Sleep is a call to contemplation in challenging times, the offering is an immersive and meditative respite from the chaos of the world, and exploring the power of music to offer refuge; the power of collective experience to unite the people. The project seeks to examine the relationship between music and the subconscious mind, and to foreground the communal aspect of music performance and listening.
Sleep was composed in consultation with American neuroscientist David Eagleman. In Max Richter’s words: ‘Five years ago I wrote Sleep as an invitation to pause our busy lives for a moment. Now we are all facing an unexpected and unwelcome pause. It is far from easy to adjust to this new normal, which daily brings fresh anxiety and suffering to our communities, to those we love, and to ourselves. At this time the magical ability of creativity to elevate our days and to connect us with one another is more valuable than ever.’
Sleep app – A special one-hour listening experience
Max Richter’s opus Sleep, his ‘lullaby for a frenetic world’, continues to evolve five years on and last year Deutsche Grammophon and Universal Music Germany’s Marketing Labs launched a hugely successful app. The app enables listeners to reimagine the 8.5-hour Deutsche Grammophon recording in custom-made personalised musical sessions to help with focus, meditation and sleep and gives the listener aural spaces in which to escape for a few moments.
Richter invites audiences to a new hour-long listening experience to his hugely popular Sleep app and hopes the world will unite together in a collective moment of meditative reflection on World Sleep Day.
Deutsche Grammophon releases Dream 3 remix
A remix of Dream 3 will be available digitally for the first time on all streaming platforms in celebration of World Sleep Day 2021.
The Sleep documentary
Beginning on World Sleep Day, Deutsche Grammophon presents Max Richter’s Sleep documentary from JA Films and Globe Productions. In the UK it will be broadcast on the BBC iPlayer and also via DG Stage. Sleep follows the acclaimed composer and musician Max Richter and his creative partner, artist and BAFTA-winning filmmaker Yulia Mahr, as they navigate an ambitious performance of this celebrated eight-hour opus at an open-air concert in Los Angeles in 2019.
Transcending the work to explore its legacy, it is a ground-breaking visual portrait that echoes the contemplative essence of Sleep, offering a poetic depiction of the ‘liminal state’ audiences experience when attending a live performance – where fans slumber through the overnight concert in beds, not seats.
Sleep is a compelling and deeply personal insight into the life and work of Max Richter and Yulia Mahr – a creative partnership spanning 30 years, responsible for large scale international touring pieces that address social and political issues through music and film.
Directed by Emmy-nominated, award-winning filmmaker Natalie Johns, the film plunges deeply into Richter and Mahr’s life and process, and explores the tenacity and drive needed to sustain such work. Working outside of public funding and in a post streaming world, the film reflects an inspiring journey filled with love, companionship and determination. Natalie Johns’ beautiful story-telling manages to somehow convey Yulia and Max’s creative vision, and process, while never losing sight of the work’s quiet wonder and global impact.
Natalie said: ‘Max describes the process of creating Sleep as writing the music he needed to hear. Yulia describes designing the experience of the work as creating the connection she craved. For me, making this film was to tell the story I needed to know was possible.’
Personal reflections from Max Richter, and a visual archive from Yulia Mahr – the co-architect of Sleep – help build this intimate portrait. Drawing on performance footage from Berlin, Sydney, and Paris to create a rich portrait of a shared artistic process, along with contributions that illuminate both the science and story behind the work. The footage shot by Yulia was filmed across 15 years.
Yulia said: ‘Of all the shows it’s Sleep I miss the most now that performances are on hold and there are no live shows. I miss that incredible collective journey. Watching the film again the other day I was filled with sadness at what we have lost. It was amazing seeing all those people standing, sitting, and lying so close together.’
‘I don’t know if we will ever get to stage the shows again – but I do hope that the film stands as a testament to just how important and life-affirming creativity can be. When we come out the other side of all this, we can all do better. I firmly believe we can collectively create a kinder world.’
Sleep seeks to examine the relationship between music and the subconscious mind and to foreground the communal aspect of music performance and listening.
A call to contemplation in changing times
Richter and Mahr continue to push the boundaries of music, art and technology forging new creative paths to embrace listeners worldwide. These projects are a call to contemplation and a celebration of community in changing times.
Last year Max Richter released his pioneering new album Voices through Decca to critical acclaim. This major audiovisual project was inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The project is an artistic response to our turbulent times and the human potential for compassion. Alongside the album, Yulia Mahr created breathtaking videos for the first two singles All Human Beings and Mercy.
Voices 2 out this April, develops this principle, continuing and intensifying the ‘place to think’ concept and provides a meditative musical space to consider those ideas raised by the first record. Mahr captures the image of rejuvenation in her beautiful video for Mirrors as flowers bloom. This year Yulia will direct a full-length film to accompany Voices.