The Guardian details a classical musical concert from composer Max Richter at the Sydney Opera House intended to put the audience to sleep.

Stretcher beds are arranged in utilitarian rows on three levels – some with a stage view, some without. It’d resemble a barracks were it not for the panoramic water view. Across the harbour, beneath the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park winks at us. Laid on the beds are first-class flight touches: slippers embroidered with Richter’s name, snacks and eye masks.

At 11.30pm Richter introduces himself, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble and soprano Grace Davidson. “There are no rules,” he says, melodiously. Entrusted with our nocturnal duty-of-care, Richter has adopted a warm bedside manner. I think of the bottom rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: food, water, warmth and rest. The next rung covers another key human need: safety. If you don’t feel safe, there is no real rest. An awareness of this fact is present in the timbre of Richter’s voice.

“Feel free to find your own way through this landscape. See you on the other side.”

Richter sits to play the first piano notes – a returning motif that becomes etched into our consciousness. The piece transitions between piano, strings, billowing electronic ambience, deep bass rumbles and voice. And rain. All night, it patters, pounds and thrums.

Photo Credit: Prudence Upton

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