Michael Nyman has been quietly developing his interest in photography for some years now. His own photographs form the basis of his latest CD cover and he is planning exhibitions of his work. On another front, his concerts increasingly feature his live piano accompaniment to silent films – such as Jean Vigo’s ‘A Propos de Nice’ and Paul Strand’s ‘Manhatta’. What if we were to propose that he make a ‘film’ of the stills he took at the GPO while with us in Dublin, and write a score to accompany it? This would then be a companion piece to 1916, and allow Michael full creative sway without troublesome filmmakers like me getting in the way.
So Rosetta Requiem co-creative director Lucinda put Michael together with Sacha Austin, a very talented animator, and together they edited GPO – an elegiac take on the GPO that November day that animates the stills that Michael took.
GPO, with its score for string quartet, marks the beginning of an exciting new direction for Michael Nyman, one that integrates his visual and musical sensibilities. But GPO, with the presence of Dermot surveying the transience of those around him that day in the post office against photographs of the fateful rising in 1916, and his own ancestors, is also a kind of Requiem for Dermot’s relationship with post offices. For, as he says in 1916 – the companion film – he was a senior manager in the Royal Mail in England before cancer forced his premature retirement, and post offices are special to him.