En una frase:

"Una sociedad fría o indiferente es una sociedad potencialmente autoritaria, donde el mal se propaga sin resistencia" - Josep María Esquirol, filósofo.

Michael Nyman Band, crossing the borders of music

Michael Nyman Band at the beginning of the concert. Madrid, Spain 2018. Photo: G. Serrano

Edition: Patrick Maloney
Leer en español

It’s Sunday evening and as they are soon to start, some of them are spending a few minutes to drink a beer in a local bar. Friendly, uncomplicated, and good humored they seem used to the stage. Used to “the mechanism” —as he calls it— which still surprises and touches him. Inside the Symphony Hall at the National Auditorium the instruments will sound Olympic, martial as the Great War, sometimes as the black humor of Peter Greenaway. They are four strings, six brasses, one electronic bass and of course, the piano.

They are just three women and nine men, twelve musicians in all. The audience focused, willing and ready to listen is —by now— completely “analogical”. Then, the violins carry drama to the extreme as their crying hurts and perseveres with every note. Each piece is an ode to an action which takes us to an epic battle, an under-construction event, something in progress, in motion just happening: Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel or Norman Foster drawing Trafalgar Square, or the Critical Mass moving forward. 

Here in Spain it might well be the perfect music for the pairing of the platform for people affected by mortgages (PAH), the Catalonian’s bid for independence, the search for meaning in the digital world which seems to have no sense with its constant swirl of passionate tweets for and against. 

A combat won, another lost. Resistance, advance, retreat and the constant desire to get on with the effort, the arduous task and the quest for the never ending. 

Here we are pulling forward, going for more, for everything. A style that includes a steady pulse with a gradual transformation. It is a reiteration, minimal music, pure emotion that slows silence. At the piano he is another matter. Understanding, temperance and solitude; the moments of calm, that privileged intimacy when we take some air to renew our thinking. This is the most human and moving side of the English musician who composed the soundtrack for The Piano (1993), Rossy de Palma’s friend, the man in the dark suit with red socks: Michael Nyman, the director.

Michael Nyman at the piano. Madrid, Spain 2018. Photo: G. Serrano

He came to Madrid to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band whose sound transmits his creative contemporary alchemy which never stops searching as he makes science on the way. His receptive heart and mind conceive an aesthetic so particular and seductive as can only be described in one word, beauty. As a librettist, composer, documentary film maker and photographer, Nyman leads his crew with the serenity of an experienced sea captain. He guides with the in depth look for those who do not only understand art, but culture and the society of their own time. The journey of humankind.

The French philosopher, Hippolyte Taine wrote: “We travel to change, not of place but ideas”. Maybe this is the reason Nyman keeps composing and sharing his scans. It is the same reason some people attend a concert like this, to go beyond their most inner and personal limits.

Michael Nyman Band at the end of the concert. Madrid, Spain 2018. Photo: G. Serrano

Michael Nyman Band

Gaby Lester violin
Ian Humphries violin
Kate Musker viola
Tony Hinnigan cello
Dave Roach saxophone
Simon Haram saxophone
Andy Findon baritone saxophone and piccolo
Toby Coles trumpet
Paul Gardham horn
Nigel Barr trombone
Martín Elliot electric bass

Michael Nyman piano and direction

Presentation on February 18 as part of the Frontiers cycle of the National Center for Musical Diffusion (CNDM), Madrid, Spain 2018.

Originally published on


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