'The Leftovers' Composer Max Richter's Sold-Out NYC Show Was Simple & Effective

Stefan Hoederath/Redferns
Max Richter performs at Saeaelchen on Jan. 26, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

Oct. 14, 2011. In The Leftovers lore, it’s when The Sudden Departure takes place, the inexplicable rapture-like event in which 140 million people (or 2% of the world's population) disappeared off the face of the Earth without a trace.

Oct. 14, 2018. Just a little over a year since the beloved, bizarre, and beautiful HBO drama left the air, groundbreaking composer Max Richter brought his haunting score back to life at a sold-out show at New York City’s Town Hall.

But unlike a lot of live performances of film or television scores, this was as about stripped-down as they get. No screens to play footage of the show, just Richter and his piano and keyboard, accompanied by members of the supremely talented American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME).

That’s not to say that fans of the cult series weren’t going all out for the event: audience members dressed up like the Guilty Remnant, while others wore Wu-Tang Clan shirts (a nod to an amazing Season 3 reference). Everyone in attendance was given souvenir fake cigarettes, to get in touch with their own inner Patti.

As any fan of the Damon Lindelof series will attest, music was a major part of The Leftovers. Whether it was the use of the theme song from Perfect Strangers (no, really) or a-ha’s iconic single “Take On Me” taking on a whole new life, the music continually took you to unexpected places during a show that was never predictable.

One certainty, however, was that Richter’s score to the series was bound to give you goosebumps every single time you heard it. So, hearing it in person and seeing it performed live at the hands of the man who created it was something special.

In addition to playing the entire score (which you can listen to here, and by all means, you should), Richter and ACME played Infra, his devastating ode to the 2005 terrorist bombings in London. Like his music for The Leftovers, Infra plays for the brokenhearted seeking questions that can never be answered.

Richter also played his lovely songs “Daylight” and “In the Garden” for Town Hall, but it was the performance of The Leftovers score that left the biggest mark. The music is so transcendent that you felt like you were taking the plunge into the great unknown with Nora or slipping out of the bathtub and into another dimension like Kevin.

While it would have been a treat to have Richter share a few words on his experience creating the soundtrack to this one-of-a-kind series or to hear even more music from the show (a piano rendition of “Take On Me” would have been a nice little nod), it’s hard to complain when you get to experience this unforgettable, eternally gorgeous score in a landmark building in the heart of New York City with a room full of people who feel just as lucky to be there.

The concert was as dreamlike and eerie as The Leftovers itself, and Richter with ACME was a force to be reckoned with.


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