Eric Whitacre conducted a wordless version of ‘Sleep’ – and it will give you chills

6 June 2019, 15:38

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

‘Sleep’, Eric Whitacre’s choral masterpiece, is just one gorgeous chord cluster after another. And it sounds even more intense without words…

Eric Whitacre, the Grammy Award-winning composer behind ‘Cloudburst’ and ‘A Boy and a Girl’, has written some of the most mesmerising choral music of the last ten years.

One of his most captivating works is ‘Sleep’, a choral a cappella setting of Charles Anthony Silvestri’s poem of the same name.

In the video above, the Eric Whitacre Choir hums a wordless version of the introduction to ‘Sleep’. Without Silvestri’s words, the crunchy harmonies under the main melody sound even more heavenly.

For context, here it is with lyrics, sung exquisitely by Voces8:

VOCES8: Sleep by Eric Whitacre

Whitacre’s music has been largely defined by his signature technique using chord clusters.

Cluster chords, which run all the way through ‘Sleep’, are chords made up of closely spaced tones that produce an almost shimmering effect.

Whitacre recently told Classic FM: “When I started singing in choir, I was moved physically by the sound of these close harmonies together. I remember giggling or tearing up. I still do when I hear them, I just feel them in my body.

“And when I started to write, I found I could find certain emotional colours in a very specific way.”

The Eric Whitacre Choir’s wordless version of ‘Sleep’ was recorded during a soundcheck for Spitfire Audio’s sample library. Find out more here.