Sleep provides an ‘apt soundtrack for these times of lockdown — when hours seemingly stretch into the distance’
Radio 3 will join with broadcasters across Europe for the live simulcast of an eight-hour lullaby designed to send a continent in quarantine into a peaceful sleep.
Composer Max Richter’s epic Sleep, described as a “lullaby for a frenetic world”, will be broadcast overnight across the European Broadcasting Union during Easter weekend.
The eight-hour piece for piano, strings, electronics and soprano voice was performed to an audience slumbering on beds at its London premiere in 2015.
That version will be rebroadcast “uniting quarantined nations across the continent in a search for sleep and moments of meditative stillness.”
Sleep, which seeks to “examine the relationship between music and the subconscious mind”, provides an “apt soundtrack for these times of lockdown – when hours seemingly stretch into the distance,” the BBC said.
It is part of the BBC’s “Culture In Quarantine festival” which also features the broadcasters Orchestras and Choirs recording ensemble and solo works remotely for Afternoon Concert.
‘Classical a sanctuary’
As part of the Home Sessions programme, musicians including Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the cellist’s sister Isata will perform on Radio 3.
The Postcards from Composers series will invite contemporary composers to write musical messages of hope to listeners stuck at home.
Alan Davey, BBC controller of classical music, said: “Our aim is to both provide classical music programming that is a sanctuary during these difficult times as well as helping people to feel connected at a time of profound seclusion and uncertainty.”
BBC4 links virtual choir
BBC4 will broadcast the first televised choral concert during which none of the singers will physically meet.
Easter would normally be the busiest period in the calendar for the award-winning choir Tenebrae, which has had to cancel its performances of sacred music.
Instead, the BBC will record a special film featuring all 19 of the world-leading vocal ensemble’s singers, performing their Easter repertoire, recorded separately within their enforced isolation at home.
Each choir member will sing works such as Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere, under the direction of their leader Nigel Short, conducting via video link.
The performance will be edited together for an Easter Sunday concert, Sacred Songs: The Secrets Of Our Hearts, broadcast on BBC4. The virtual concert will also feature works by JS Bach and Purcell.
Next month BBC4 will screen a performance of Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio. The brand new staging was recorded at the Royal Opera House just days before the Covid-19 lockdown required the closure of major institutions.
It is part of Beethoven Unleashed, a BBC cross-platform celebration of 250 years since the composer’s birth.
A documentary series, Being Beethoven, re-examines his works in the context of “a life often spent in isolation, ill-health, and marked by deafness.”