Celtic Connections - Michael Nyman
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Mon 26 Jan
Despite his ongoing frustration at being shunned by the BBC Proms, Michael Nyman remains the most widely heard of contemporary ‘serious’ composers in the UK. An early experimentalist in the 60s avant-garde, Nyman is one of the very small band of contemporary composers who has reached out to a mass audience.
The key to that achievement was the success of his scores for film soundtracks, including a string of Peter Greenaway’s enigmatic creations, and his most emblematic success, the haunting theme from Jane Campion’s The Piano – a work with a Celtic connection lurking in the background.
‘The character Ada in the film was dumb, and the music was literally her only voice,’ says Nyman. ‘Since the actress who played her, Holly Hunter, was not a professional pianist, it had to have a certain modesty to it, and since Ada was Scottish, it made sense to use Scottish folk tunes and songs as its basis. Once I had decided on that, it all fell into place.’
Nyman will lead his own performing ensemble in this concert, which will feature a cross-section of his work over the years. Adding to an intriguing double bill is a chance to hear Caithness pianist and composer James Ross’ Chasing the Sun, commissioned by the Blas Festival and premiered to considerable acclaim in the Highlands in September. Ross is joined by multi-instrumentalist Fraser Fifield and members of Mr McFall’s Chamber, as well as visual input from photographer Catriona Murray.