To kick off the new year, The Yucatan Times continues with its series of exclusive interviews with the wonderful musicians of the International String Quartet of Yucatan.
And today we have the honor to introduce Timothy Myall, an English musician who came from London to make Mérida his home. Tim comes from a musical family and has always “enjoyed the musical life”
TYT: Who is Timothy Myall?
I am English, I was born in a Little village in the south of London, born into a musical family, my mom was a piano teacher and singer; my dad an amateur violinist, and I have two brothers and a sister, we all grew up playing an instrument.
So music was a part of my life from a very early age. My brother and I took lessons with the same local teacher, and then we all went to different schools and conservatories in London.
TYT: And your instrument is the violin, right?
Yes, I am a violinist and my brother is also a violinist. He actually plays in the Venice Opera, in Italy.
So, that’s how we started, it all ran in the family. I went to a normal secondary school there, and I think I was about 19 years old when I auditioned and I got into Trinity College of Music in London, so I went to live in London and studied there 4 or 5 years.
Then I came out into the big wide world, and I became a free-lance musician, playing all different types of music, classical music. I got a job with at a string section with a Company that was making a lot of music for films, and backing sections for pop music.
And after some time of doing that, I finally came to Merida thanks to a contact, another English guy, who was one of the first musicians here, his name is Jonathan Hennessy Brown, he came here to play for OSY. That was 12 years ago.
I sent my audition tape, and I was accepted. I think at that time I was looking for something different, at that time I was doing a lot of shows, and a lot of touring, so I was a little fed up of playing the same music all the time and constantly traveling by car, so Mérida sounded like a great Project, and it really appealed to me. So I came, and never really got back.
And now I am married to a Mexican woman, who is also a violinist, I have been married for eight years now, and we have two children. So I ended up building my life here really.
TYT: So you came to Yucatan in 2003, and have been here ever since?
Yes, at that time, I came here in a one-year contract, so after a year, I went back home and worked in England for a while, but I kind of missed it here, so in 2005, there was an opening in the orchestra and was able to return. And have been here ever since, yes.
TYT: Did you speak Spanish when you came here the first time?
Not a word, so that was quite daunting in a way you know, but I picked it up very very quickly. And then, of course meeting my wife, was another reason to stay (and learn Spanish).
TYT: How old are your children?
My children are 3 and 6, and they were born here in Merida.
TYT: What does it feel to be a member of the “Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán”?
It has been a fantastic project, at the beginning, people used to come and go, but now it is much more stable, and it is like family really, besides there are lots of jobs and other activities for a musician, and I was able to be a part of the chamber music projects, so it is a vibrant musical life here.
TYT: Have you been involved in any other chamber music projects besides the ISQY?
Yes, when I first came to Merida, myself and Jonathan, who was a cellist, we were playing chamber music back then here. And I was also a part of the “Quo Vadis” quartet with Nadia. So yes, I’ve always had chamber music as part of my life.
TYT: So how do you feel as an English man living in Yucatan, Mexico?
Well I am a permanent resident, I am married to a Mexican woman, and my two sons are Mexican nationals, so I feel like Mérida is indeed my home. I have traveled to other parts of Mexico, and I think it is an incredible place, so diverse in culture, in geography, I love when we travel around with the orchestra, or other musical groups, it is fantastic to see how vast this country is.
But Mérida to me, is kind of paradise, because I can feel that it is a safe place to live, to raise a family, my children are very happy, we got a lot of friends outside the orchestra, because of the kids, you know, they’re parents of their classmates.
So when you have children, it becomes a different experience, because you get away from the orchestra circle and you get to meet other friends, and it is a very rich life here, I really enjoy it.
TYT: What do you think about the summertime in Merida, the heat and the humidity?
Well, the summers here, I think you never really get used to it, but yes, you know the month of May is coming, and you kind of prepare yourself.
But this time of the year (January) is of course my favorite.
And talking about the city of Merida, I think it is also a good place to be a musician because, I remember when I was in London playing chamber music, just to have a rehearsal was difficult, since you have people living in different parts of London, you have to leave two hours before the rehesarsal to make it on time, so it was always a problem just getting around.
So one of the things that I love here is the fact that I can leave my house and ten or fifteen minutes later, I’m at my workplace. I feel that is very important, not to waste time getting from one place to the other.
I also teach on the ESAY (Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán), and that is something that I really enjoy very much, have been doing it for the last 9 years now, and I’ve had some great students.
In fact, one of my students, auditioned for the Trinity College of Music where I studied in London and was actually accepted. He is Mexican, from Chetumal, and my wife is also from Chetumal, so he used to study with her, and then he used to travel with his parents all the way to Merida to study with me, so I feel very proud for him.
But he is just one of the many many students that I’ve had the honor to teach, and most of them are enjoying the musical life.
TYT: Do you play any other instruments besides the violin?
Well, I used to play the piano, because when you enter the Music College in London you must have two instruments, first instument and second instrument. So yes, I play the piano.
And I also sang, when I was in secondary school, the principle was very interested in Opera, and so there was a wonderful musical life back in secondary school, and I used to sing there, my mom was very happy for me, since she used to sing as well.
TYT: Tim, what can you tell us about the ISQY?
Well this project is very interesting because of course Chris can’t be here all of the time so, normally we have a fairly short amount of time to rehearse the different programs. And now that we have been together for more than five years, we have a huge repertoire, we can do a good number of concerts without repeating.
I think I can speak for the others when I say that we are getting to a point on which we enjoy to perform together very much, and we can repeat or mix performances, play the works that we like the most, because now we get to choose the programs. The members of the quartet are so talented, that it is a continuous learning process. And that’s when you grow as a group, so it is a wonderful experience.
I’ve always loved chamber music, and it is very common in a city like London, there are lots of quartets, but it is difficult to find a place to perform, and if you are not at the top of the food chain, it is not easy to stand out.
And it is also hard to get audiences, because if a quartet is not famous, people will not go to the concert. And Merida is a smaller city where people is eager for cultural events such as quartet music.
Besides, the ISQY is going through a new phase, with a new management team that is fantastic, always looking for new ideas, different venues, new ways to spread the word, etc.
For me, playing with a musician like Christopher is just amazing, even being an experienced violinist myself, I am constantly learning from him and from the other two as well. The quartet is passing through a tremendously harmonic stage.
And the Hacienda Santa Cruz, where we are playing now, is just fantastic, soundwise is incredible. People are having a great time during our performances. The hacienda people and our new manager are just so well organized that the concerts are getting sold out, just as it happened last December 23rd. So yes, it is a very exciting time for the quartet.
And talking about other venues, we have a concert tomorrow, Tuesday January 3, at Centro Cultural La Cúpula, prices are reasonable and the place has great acoustics.
On Thursday January 5th, the International String Quartet of Yucatán will be performing at Hacienda Santa Cruz de Palomeque.
So, to finish the interview, I would like to invite everybody to our next two concerts:
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Tuesday Jan. 3 at La Cúpula 8:00 pm
Concerto Grosso Opus 9, No. 1 in Bb Major Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751)
- Allegro molto vivace
String Quartet in G Major K. 525
“Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” W. A. Mozart (1756-1791)
- Romanza, Andante
- Menuetto, Allegretto
- Rondo, Allegro
Chaconne Henry Purcell (1658-1695)
Suite on Medieval Christmas Carols Alec Rowley (1892-1958)
- Sarabande “The Coventry Carol”
- Bouree “On Christmas Night” and “The Moon Shines Bright”
- Moderato “The Bitter Withy”
- Minuet “The Holly and the Ivy” and “The Cherry Tree Carol”
- Finale “Good Christian Men”, “What Child Is This”, “The Wassail Song” and “Good King Wenceslas”
Christmas Concerto, Concerto Grosso No. 8 Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Vivace; Allegro; Adagio; Allegro; Adagio; Vivace
Divertimento No. 1 in D Major, K. 136 W. A. Mozart (1756-1791)
Thursday Jan. 5 at Hacienda Santa Cruz 8:00 pm
- Suk: Meditación sobre el rey Wenceslao
- Beethoven: Opus 18, No. 5
- Mendelssohn: Cuarteto de Cuerdas en Re Mayor
- Brubeck: Rond a la Turk
Check out the interviews with the other three members of the International String Quartet of Yucatan:
Interview by Alejandro Azcárate for The Yucatan Times