Cultural Life: Gavin Bryars, composer


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The Independent Culture

Music: In the car I'm listening to Tom Waits's 'Bad as Me' (I'm releasing an album of his songs with Opera North Projects), Carla Bley's 'Carla's Christmas Carols' (unseasonably) – especially her gospel version of "O Holy Night" – and my daughter's Count Basie albums (with virtuosic rhythm guitarist Freddie Green). Late at night, the jazz pianist Tony Genge, as well as Michael Chance singing "Erbaum dicht" from the St Matthew Passion.

Films: Although my wife [Anna Tchernakova] is a Russian film director, and I have written music for most of her films, I seldom go to the cinema these days. I do, however, watch DVDs on long-haul flights. I'd read David Peace's 'The Damned United' (my son and I support Nottingham Forest) and finally watched the film, which is terrific. I also watched Sydney Pollack's1969 war film 'Castle Keep'. Burt Lancaster plays a military commander who takes over a chateau. There is a touching performance from a pre-'Columbo' Peter Falk – the dedicatee of my cantata 'The War in Heaven' – as a soldier who was formerly a baker.

Books: Most nights I dip into Hamish Haswell-Smith's 'The Scottish Islands', a stunning book which details every aspect of each island; ownership, population,geology, wildlife, and modes of access. It is beautifully illustrated with very accurate hand-drawn maps, watercolours and exquisite drawings.

Visual Arts: At the moment I try to get to the very special and unpretentious exhibitions at Chelsea Art Space, just behind Tate Britain, whenever I can. And there is a show of drawings by my friend the late Juan Munoz opening at the Frith Street Gallery.

'The Sinking of the Titanic', composed by Gavin Bryars, is performed tonight at the Town Hall, Birmingham ( and Barbican Hall, London EC2, on 15 April (