Composer Michael Nyman: ‘It’s a no-brainer to perform at WAC Arts’

Composer Michael Nyman. Picture: PA

Composer Michael Nyman. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The musician behind films such as Drowning By Numbers, The Cook and The Piano is helping to raise money for young people from deprived backgrounds.

Ahead of his War Songs concert at the Barbican on December 10, composer and pianist Michael Nyman has gifted an evening performance to local charity WAC Arts to help raise essential funds for its performing arts programmes for young people from deprived backgrounds.

An evening with Michael Nyman and Julian Joseph at the charity’s base in Hampstead Town Hall on Sunday includes pieces by the composer widely known for his film music including Drowning By Numbers, The Cook, The Thief His Wife and Her Lover and Jane Campion’s The Piano.

Joseph, a WAC arts alumnus, broadcaster and renowned jazz pianist will play his own compositions at an event that aims to raise £20,000 for WAC Arts’ weekend programmes, enabling 500 young people two free music classes a week for a year.

Nyman first became involved after meeting CEO Celia Greenwood and being impressed by performances by Wac Arts alumni last summer. He donated his piano to the students, who will perform both Nyman’s and Joseph’s pieces at the event. Tickets £75 including £50 donation for Wac Arts whose motto is ‘empowering young people to change their world’.

Below, he speaks to Bridget Galton:

What have you chosen to play for the WAC Arts concert and are you looking forward to sharing the bill with Julian Joseph?

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I’m looking forward immensely to sharing a programme with Julian, whose music i am somewhat familiar with. I am sure that his work will force to me ask questions about my own work, that generally do not get asked or, obviously, answered!

What is it about the work of WAC Arts that you wanted to support by donating your piano and time?

I discovered WAC Arts through my friend Ann Mitchell, who explained to me what has been achieved there and how there is a disgraceful lack of ‘official’ funding for an institution that has produced a stream of actors and writers of high quality, familiar to all of us. I was introduced to the music department and it seemed a no-brainer to donate my Yamaha grand.

What if any connections do you have to Hampstead and north London?

From 1969 i lived on Upper Park Road, just round the corner from Belsize Park station. At that time, what is now the WAC building was Hampstead Town Hall, where I got married in 1970. and in the mid ‘90s was used by Jane Campion to prepare and produce ‘Portrait of a Lady’, a film for which I was commissioned to write the soundtrack, after the success of ‘The Piano’. That soundtrack was unfortunately never written - not by me, at least!