Your New Year culture guide

We suggest some cultural activities you can slip in around the High Holy Day Synagogue-going and feasting

By Nicola Christie, September 17, 2009
Robert Downey Jnr in The Soloist. Both movie and star have a New Year feel

Robert Downey Jnr in The Soloist. Both movie and star have a New Year feel

Classical Music

Vladimir Ashkenazy and the London Philharmonic Orchestra:
The legendary Russian-born pianist comes to the UK to conduct the LPO in a concert of Shostakovich’s mighty 8th Symphony and Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto. An invigorating way to start off the New Year after the Rosh Hashanah hibernation.
Tuesday September 22, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1, 0871 663 2500,

The Bernstein Project:
A season dedicated to the composer Leonard Bernstein starts this month. Expect music from West Side Story and the Chichester Psalms; films from his pioneering Young People’s Concerts (the longest-running classical music series in televison history); and talks by his children.
Monthly events until July 2010, South Bank Centre, London SE1, 0871 663 2500,


Charles Darwin and wife Emma get their own film, delivered by real-life husband and wife actors Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. This is about Darwin’s master-work The Origin of Species and how his theory of evolution tears into his relationship with a deeply religious wife. Pertinent stuff, as whether to teach evolution or not is a hot topic in Jewish primary schools. Educationalist Dr Rafi Zarum, at the London School of Jewish Studies, has been championing much more celebration of Darwin.
On general release from September 25

The Soloist:
The new film from Atonement and Pride and Prejudice director Joe Wright. The lead performance comes from Robert Downey Jr, whose life publicly fell to bits a number of years ago; he is now recovered and on track again. This is very much a Rosh Hashanah tale — both Downey’s recovery and the story of the film.

Downey plays LA Times columnist Steve Lopez, who discovers a mentally ill, homeless, musical prodigy, Nathaniel Ayres, and tries to get him back into the concert hall (and fix the rest of the homeless community in LA). Ayres is a real person — his tale was first captured in a book by Jewish writer Adam Crane.
On general release now


Our Class:
Ryan Craig, one of the leading Jewish dramatists in the UK — he wrote What We Did To Weinstein — teams up with Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek in this new play about a class of Jewish and Catholic children in 1925 Poland whose childhoods, interrupted by the invasion of Soviet and Nazi troops, lead to dark, dark adulthoods.
Now on at the National Theatre, London SE1, 020 7452 3000,


The South Bank Show — Coldplay:ITV1’s flagship art show devotes an episode in its final series to one of the country’s greatest bands, showing just after the end of Rosh Hashanah. Frontman Chris Martin is married to Gwyneth Paltrow — the couple have a child called Moses.
10.15pm, Sunday September 20, ITV1


Anish Kapoor:
A major solo show for the Indian-Jewish sculptor, one of the most influential artists of our time.
From Tuesday 26 September, Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London W1, 0844 209 1919,

Last updated: 1:05pm, September 17 2009