FIVE PIANOS

(uninspired but accurate name) was a very short-lived band which I formed with the composers Benedict Mason, John Lewis, Dave Smith and Michael Nyman. The only gig I remember clearly was in the foyer of the fledgling National Theatre. We played, amongst pieces of our own, Terry Riley’s In C. Michael played the crucial pulse part. After a few minutes a woman came up to him and said ‘Will you please stop making this horrible noise?’ Michael, to his great credit, continued playing while explaining to her how the piece works. Multi-tasking of a high order. We finished playing. The audience, if you can call it that – the people who happened to be in the foyer at the time kept on doing what they were doing. Not a whisper of applause. Then a man at the bar downed his gin and tonic and shouted ‘Rubbish’.

 

The National Theatre learned its lesson and started programming trios playing jazz standards. Michael left to form the Campiello Band (which became the Michael Nyman Band), and Five Pianos evaporated. If five pianos can evaporate.