Max Richter's 8-hour overnight concert is coming to RTÉ Lyric FM. This is why you need to tune in

Richter's “lullaby for a frenetic world” will give you the best night's sleep you've had in months

Last June, composer Max Richter brought his eight-hour opus SLEEP to Ireland. 

Those lucky enough to secure a ticket arrived at Carlow Visual Arts Centre at 10.30pm on a Friday night and made their way to one of 100 pre-pitched tents that were erected around the parkland.

When the clock struck midnight, the audience zipped up their tents and dozed off to an eight-hour musical odyssey performed by an orchestra of musicians. 


Richter consulted with American neuroscientist David Eagleman while composing SLEEP. He wanted to understand how the brain works when we sleep and create an almost trance-inducing piece of music.

His “lullaby for a frenetic world” features piano, strings and synths and is now performed in a variety of venues around the world, including the Sydney Opera House and Philharmonie de Paris. The audience get into beds — not seats — at these concerts. 

These overnight experiences are always sell-out events, and with good reason. I was among the audience when SLEEP came to Carlow and it was truly one of the most profound musical experiences I’ve ever had. I felt deeply rested the next morning and yet strangely invigorated. The feeling stayed with me for days afterwards. 

The first live performance of the all-night piece took place in the Wellcome Collection Reading Room in London back in 2015. Now, five years after its world premiere, that same performance will be rebroadcast in 15 countries worldwide over Easter. 

As part of the ‘Slow and Mindful’ series, BBC Radio 3’s offering of music for the mind in the time of lockdown, SLEEP will be rebroadcast overnight from 11pm tomorrow (April 11) to 7am on Easter Sunday (April 12). 

RTÉ Lyric FM will broadcast it from midnight on April 13.

Richter says: 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, and I’m really happy that BBC Radio 3 and the EBU will allow us to listen all together across the world. Please stay home, stay safe, and enjoy this 8-hour place to rest with those you love."

Trust us, this is one lockdown concert you don't want to miss.

Photo: Mike Terry 

Read more: Live aid concert announced in support of frontline health workers, featuring Billie Eilish, Lizzo and more

Read more: 10 free resources (from dancing and music to kid's activities and audiobooks) to try while you're in lockdown

Read more: 8 of the best kids' movies you've never seen (that children and adults will enjoy)

The image newsletter