Mexico According to Michael Nyman
By Naomi Palovits
In 2005, after a concert in Puebla, Michael Nyman discovered the Condesa district in Mexico City, and the rest, as it is said, is history.
“The best art in Mexico is in the streets” says Nymam, and by exploring Mexico City’s streets he ended up finding the ultimate destination: a 1930s art deco house in the Roma district, which he bought and for a decade now he calls home. As a composer, pianist, writer, musicologist, photographer and film-maker, Nyman is one of the finest and most prolific artists of our times, best known for his film soundtracks for The Draughtsman’s Contract, in collaboration with Peter Greenaway, and The Piano, directed by Jane Campion.
Born in Stratford, London, England in 1944, Nyman has tour the world along with his Michael Nyman Band and has collaborated with acclaimed film directors and contemporary musicians, including Damon Albarn and Alva Noto. His opera works include The man who mistook his wife for a hat, Riddles and Writs, Letters, Noises, Sounds & Sweet Airs, Facing Goya, Man and Boy: Dada, Love Counts and Sparkie: Cage and Beyond. After working with major labels, Michael Nyman owns his own label, MN Records, where his extensive repertoire is available.
How do you describe life in Mexico to your friends abroad?
As being, amongst other things, far safer than London. Certainly in the light of a headline like this that I found this morning: “Britain is now one of the most unequal countries in Europe, with immigration the tinder for enmity and hate.”
What is your favorite place in México to relax?
Walking around Roma, and relaxing by being constantly distracted!
What is your favorite Mexican beach?
I am not a great beach person, but the last beach I was on was Hotbox, so that is my favourite (until it is ruined by the developers……..)
What is the most inspirational place in Mexico?
I know it sounds corny to say so, but I get inspiration from simply being on the streets of Mexico City. And, specifically, there is a flea market opposite Parque Pushkin where I buy the most amazing objects – not only anonymous Mexican photographs but also, from a big list, a collection of letters written by an expatriate Mexican worker in Chicago to his son in DF, from the 20s to the 40s, and also – how did this happen? – a collection of cards that gave Jose Lopez Portillo permission to travel on every railway in Mexico and the US!!!
What is your favorite building in Mexico?
My house. Built, in genuine Art Deco style, in 1930.
A place everyone who visits Mexico must visit?
El Palacio de Bellas Artes, MUAC (in homage to my friend Teodoro González de León) and the Barragán house – amongst MANY OTHERS!
What is your favorite Mexican dish?
Chile en Nogada.
And your favorite restaurant in Mexico?
Difficult (because I might lose friendships!) to name only one – but in Roma, Maximo Bistrot, Rosetta and Contramar.
Mexican composers you admire?
Exclusively, and devotedly, Sylvester Revueltas (in the past) and Gabriela Ortiz in the present.
Mexican artists whose work you collect:
I have a large number of photomontages by Enrique Metinides (and here I am in danger of ‘doing a Kim Kardashian’, so I won’t mention any others!)
A Mexican city or a state on your must visit list:
I will be going to Tijuana for the first time in a few weeks (for the opening of the new Cine Tonalá) and I must visit Acapulco and I have never been to Chiapas.
Tell us about a memorable concert you gave in Mexico?
The most memorable Mexico City concert was when the Michael Nyman band performed my ‘war work: 8 songs with film’ at the Fototeca. everything ranging from the quality of the performance, the size and concentration of the audience to the ‘tiny’ piece of information i was given beforehand: that the room that was given to me as a ‘dressing room’ was the actual room in which Octavio Paz had died.
Name a venue/place/building in México you would love play at?
Teatro Cine Opera. I had an accidental opportunity to spend two hours photographing the filming the interior. The photographs were shown in an exhibition at El Museo del Chopo and, as a result of this exhibition, INBA decided to renovate this historic cinema and to turn it into a performance space. The work started, was half finished and is now – or so i was told – owned by Carlos Slim!!!
What do you miss the most from Mexico when you are visiting your country?
What do you usually buy from Mexico as a souvenir?
The best mangos in the world!
What do you love the most about Mexico?
Answering questionnaires like this!!!
Mexico according to Michael Nyman by Naomi Palovits for Negocios magazine (Promexico).