BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Yulia Mahr’s video for ‘Prelude 2’, the third single from Max Richter’s new album Voices 2, released today, highlights the plight of refugees and calls for human compassion.
According to the United Nations, more than 20,000 migrants and refugees have drowned in the past seven years trying to cross the Mediterranean. Many people, including women and children, lost their lives while trying to escape persecution and poverty. Yulia Mahr’s film is also a metaphor for the sensation of drowning that people feel when overwhelmed. Despite its sombre mood, positivity and a sense of potential in a future as yet unwritten, runs throughout.
“When I was a little child I almost drowned”
Yulia Mahr explained, “When I was a little child I almost drowned, saved at the very last moment by my mother. I still remember the sensation so vividly – it was hazy and dreamy and the seconds went by in slow motion. I wasn’t panicking but it was totally overwhelming – a feeling of the inevitable unfolding. I’ve tried to bring something of the memory of those moments to this video. And my own sense of the power of that, in juxtaposition to the amniotic fluid that gives us life.”
Inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The powerful themes of humanitarianism running through Max Richter’s Voices, Voices 2, and new single ‘Prelude 2’, inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, were informed by Yulia’s own upbringing. She was born in Hungary, when it was a Communist country, and was raised largely by her Grandmother in her early years. Her Grandmother was a refugee during the Second World War, who had escaped to Chile. She raised Yulia in Budapest and her deep humanitarianism and warmth fed the inspiration for Voices.
Yulia Mahr explained, “My grandmother had fled persecution by the Nazis to the safety of Chile for 20 years – and so in the confines of our flat I was raised on stories of escape, persecution, community and hope. My grandmother remained a humanitarian throughout her life – helping refugees and being part of an international movement towards peace.
In the end my own convoluted story saw my mother and I replicating the large scale migrations of the 20th century and I arrived in the UK – lonely, confused and desperate for security.
While I could rarely see my grandmother after that – her spirit has never left me and it is this spirit that informed the conception and writing of Voices.”
“A place to think”
Voices, described by composer Max Richter as “a place to think”, was a response to our tempestuous political climate and the enduring need for compassion, and Voices 2 develops this principle. While Voices focuses on the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Voices 2 opens up a meditative instrumental musical space to consider the ideas raised by the first record. The music is less about the world we know already and more about the hope for the future we have yet to write.
Max Richter’s new album Voices 2 is out now and can be bought here.