Anthems for the Queen

The Choirbook for the Queen, which has recently been launched, is a remarkable initiative, involving most of the leading Church musicians of our day and many philanthropists besides. The idea behind it is simple enough: to put together a collection of anthems (I use the word precisely) to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, with the

Arts feature

At home with Rubens

William Cook believes that the British cannot really understand the artist until they’ve been to Antwerp In a quiet corner of Tate Britain there is a little exhibition that sheds fresh light on an artist whom the British have never really learned to love. Rubens & Britain (until 6 May) is a fascinating show, documenting


Reflections on guilt

There can be no doubting the nobility of John Adams’s intentions in writing The Death of Klinghoffer to a text by Alice Goodman, nor ENO’s courage in putting it on, though they do have a captive audience for minimalist and near-minimalist operas. The work is conceived, as all commentaries tirelessly tell us, in the spirit

Only the best

Jackie Mason, the New York stand-up, looks very strange. It’s as if somebody shrank Tony Bennett and microwaved him for two hours. Mason is short, dark, troll-like, densely built, with shining bulbous lips and a twinkly expression of diabolical mischief. His hair gathers over his head in a wave of red-brown crinkliness. For his solo


Friends reunited | 10 March 2012

Paula Milne’s drama serial White Heat (BBC2, Thursday) starts in 1965 which to some of us might seem like yesterday, but is equidistant between the end of the first world war and now. So to most people it’s ancient history. Various students in London are looking for accommodation, which is strange since Churchill died in


Road to Mecca

The British Museum’s latest exhibition Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam (until 15 April) sets out to explain the mysteries of this annual pilgrimage. Last year, a total of 2,927,719 pilgrims went to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, something that all Muslims should try to do at least once in their lifetime. Such huge numbers are

Spring round-up | 10 March 2012

The fashion for museum-quality exhibitions in commercial galleries continues apace with two notable shows in Mayfair: Cy Twombly at Eykyn Maclean, and Julio González at Ordovas. Both galleries specialise in this kind of display, which must be more to do with impressing potential clients than with generating income, given that both are loan shows. I


Running on empty | 10 March 2012

Bel Ami is based on Guy de Maupassant’s 1895 novel of the same name about a young man who sleeps himself to the top of Parisian society — I once slept myself to the top of Parisian society, but by the time I got there I was far too exhausted to properly enjoy it —


Overdoing the drama

What took them so long? For weeks and weeks he’d been limping into the farmhouse whining about how cold he is, how tired, how he’s had enough of Tom gadding about Borsetshire selling his gruesome-sounding pork meatballs while he’s stuck on the farm trimming leeks and getting up at the crack of dawn to do