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Max Richter's Classical music you can Sleep to / theguardian

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This weekend, across London, in the reading room of the Wellcome Collection, an ensemble orchestra and soprano will perform Max Richter's Sleep from midnight on Saturday until 8am on Sunday. The concert will be heard live on Radio 3, thereby becoming the longest single continuous piece of music broadcast live on the BBC  (a recorded version is already available on Deutsche Grammophon).

Those of us who nodded off during side two of Bowie's Low or the more plangent sections of Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux were unwittingly in training for our roles as comatose listeners to Max Richter's musical experiment. But if Lost in Thought is aimed at encouraging mindfulness, what's the point of Richter's Sleep? Can audiences be said to be listening if they aren't awake? "I think of Sleepas an experiment into how music and the mind can interact in this other state of consciousness," says Richter, "one we all spend decades of our lives completely immersed in, but which is so far rather poorly understood."

Richter wrote the piece in consultation with American neuroscientist David Eagleman, and the concert is aimed at helping to understand the nature of sleep. Listeners will be invited to report on whether Richter's lullaby helped them to drift off and what kind of dreams they had. Sleep is being played as part of Why Music?, a weekend of public events and one-off broadcasts that includes debates and performances exploring the relationship between music and the mind.

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