Of Barbara Visentin
The singer: «Playing at the Castello Sforzesco was a privilege. This city is beautiful, but concert halls are few. Local violence? You need to have places to lose yourself without fear”
Mika is a citizen of the world: he was born in Beirut, grew up in Paris and London, lived in the United States and also in Italy. He looks to Milan, where he recently returned for a concert at Castello Sforzesco as a preview of Piano City, with the eye of one who knows the great foreign capitals, their challenges and their problems. And if he, on the one hand, supports the protest of the students in tents against high rents, on the other, he hopes, as a passionate showman, that there will be more spaces for live music in the city.
What effect has it had on you to be able to play in an emblematic place like the Castello Sforzesco?
«For me it was a privilege to have access to a place in Milan that is almost sacred and it is also a good sign for all the other musicians who will perform in the various places in the city. Milan is really getting hold of the idea of contaminating itself, of opening up to different genres.”
What do you like about this pollution?
«From the Salone del Mobile to the opera, from pop to the most traditional music, Milan is positioning itself in a very contemporary way culturally speaking. This is not free, investment is needed, and when the young and freer approach to culture begins to take place with a little more official support, it can really make a difference: it can change the image, the direction and the cultural destiny of a city. , so it is essential that it be done ».
In your experience, does Milan keep up with other European cities? «Milan has surprised many people. From the point of view of design, artistry, intent and cultural ambition it is almost on the same level as London and this was unthinkable 15 or 20 years ago.”
What is missing, in your opinion?
“There are not enough theaters and there are not enough places to give concerts. La Fabrique is cool, Alcatraz is important, but other places are needed, especially with 3-4 thousand seats, because that capacity there is very important for artists. Not everyone has to choose between Fabrique or Forum, the middle ground is essential. And then there would also be more clubs that are disappearing everywhere. If Milan doesn’t do it, who will do it in Italy?
Students are protesting high rents and many people cannot afford a house given the rising prices: does Milan also follow foreign metropolises in this less virtuous realm?
“It’s not just happening here. London is the extreme case, the difference is that London is huge. When I went to school there, when I was 15, my best friend took a train every day that took 50-55 minutes, no delays. It was normal for him, but something like that is hard. If in London it has been like this for a long time, now it is also happening in other places, I am thinking, for example, in Athens, where students can no longer afford a house, rents rise and salaries remain the same.
So you sympathize with the students in the shops?
“But absolutely. I come from a family that is also from New York and there rent control, the regulation of rents, has given many the possibility of not losing their apartments, artists and teachers to stay in areas that have developed and become gentrified. Of course, gentrification can also be the death of a city’s beauty and cultural soul.”
What do you mean?
“In the art world, rising prices have huge consequences. We are happy to have Google or Microsoft in our cities, but then in London we see that we can no longer financially support the English National Opera, so much so that it will have to move to Manchester. This is very sad”.
In Milan the security issue is being discussed, with recent episodes of violence even in clubs.
“It’s not my field, but the idea that you can go to a party and be in danger is idiotic without reason. Security in nightclubs or concerts is very important because it is essential to have spaces where you can get lost without fear”.
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