Max Richter releases new single - photo by Mike Terry

Max Richter releases new single All Human Beings

Max Richter releases new single - photo by Mike Terry

Max Richter has spent the last decade creating his new album Voices inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He describes its first single, All Human Beings, as “a place to think and reflect” and a musical message of hope in these troubled times.

Richter invited people around the world to be part of the piece, crowd-sourcing readings in 70 different languages of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be interwoven into the work, which features a unique “upside-down” orchestra.

Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by a group of philosophers, artists and thinkers convened by Eleanor Roosevelt to address the great questions of the time.

Alongside Roosevelt’s recorded voice, and the crowd-sourced voices, there is also narration by acclaimed US actor Kiki Layne, whose distinctive tones complement the choral, orchestral and electronic soundscape.

“I like the idea of a piece of music as a place to think, and it is clear we all have some thinking to do at the moment,” explains Max Richter. “We live in a hugely challenging time and, looking around at the world we have made, it’s easy to feel hopeless or angry. But, just as the problems we face are of our own making, so their solutions are within our reach, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is something that offers us a way forward.

“Although it isn’t a perfect document, the declaration does represent an inspiring vision for the possibility of better and kinder world.”

Voices had its world premiere in London in February, with more than 60 musicians performing live on the Barbican stage. The music involves a radical reimagining of the traditional orchestra formation.

“It came out of this idea of the world being turned upside down, our sense of what’s normal being subverted, so I have turned the orchestra upside down in terms of the proportion of instruments,” says Richter.

He has scored the work for 12 double basses, 24 cellos, 6 violas, 8 violins and a harp. They are joined by a wordless 12-piece choir as well as Richter on keyboards, violin soloist Mari Samuelsen, soprano Grace Davidson and conductor Robert Ziegler. The striking visuals for this large-scale project are by Richter’s creative partner, artist and film-maker Yulia Mahr.

You can follow Max Richter on Facebook and Twitter.

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Review by Paul Clarke, you can see his author profile here.

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