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Max Richter had only been on the SXSW stage for 15 minutes and someone was already snoring / Austin Chronicle

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At 12:25am Tuesday morning, Max Richter had only been on the stage at Bass Concert Hall for 15 minutes and someone was already snoring. During a typical concert this would be a horrible insult. For Sleep, it proved a high compliment. Best known for lush film and TV scores (The Leftovers), Richter's latest project is an 8-hour composition designed to be played overnight by seven musicians. Last night's SXSW performance was the North American premiere. The piece debuted in 2015 and had been played 11 times previously.

The Austin audience lay onstage in 150 twin-sized BeautyRest beds, which were donated to charity afterward. More witnesses sat in 200 overflow seats out front. Non-badge holders had to leave at 2am, but were allowed back at dawn to experience the end of the piece.

Although nobody likes a snorer, there's no wrong way to experience Sleep. The only instructions were a polite request not to make much noise and the crowd acted respectfully. A full moon projected on the wall gave just enough light to find your way to the bathroom (or scribble a concert review), but as soon as the music started, the rest of the beds seemed to disappear to create a concert for one.

Around 8:30am, the wake-up lights rimming the stage brightened and the piano shifted to bass notes, a subtle but unmistakable alarm. For the first time in hours, the crowd stood up and filled the auditorium with a refreshing sound: applause. 
Photo by David Brendan Hall

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