The Sydney Opera House will push the boundaries of live performance in June when polymath, pianist and composer Max Richter’s eight-hour magnum opus Sleep has its exclusive Australian premiere during this year’s Vivid LIVE program as part of Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas.
Featuring the six-piece American Contemporary Music Ensemble and starring soprano Grace Davidson, the overnight performance in full of Richter’s daring eight-hour, 31-track album Sleep will be staged in the Joan Sutherland Theatre Northern Foyer and surrounds for two nights only.
Influenced by composers as disparate as Gustav Mahler, Arvo Pärt and Vivid LIVE godfather Brian Eno, Sleep is a collaboration with neurologist David Eagleman, based in science as much as the arts. Richter encourages his audience to be a part of his “personal lullaby for a frenetic world”; to meditate, listen, wander into his nightlife of sound and discover the relationship between music and consciousness.
From his childhood spent playing the piano and synthesiser to his studies under the influentialLuciano Berio and the decade Richter spent with neo-classical quintet Piano Circus, the prolific 50-year-old composer has developed a signature style of cinematic arrangements with emotional power.
He collaborated with actor Tilda Swinton on the spoken-word, full-length composition The Blue Notebooks (2004), and added his elegiac balladry to the screen for dozens of films including
Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Ari Folman’s Golden Globe-winning Waltz With Bashir.
Sleep promises to be an extraordinary moment in 2016’s ambitious Vivid LIVE program.