Asked to consider what he thinks has been his most significant achievement as an arts benefactor, former GP Dr David Cohen pauses for a moment before choosing his answer carefully. Then, without a shred of pomposity or fanfare, he explains that he has actually just returned from the launch of New Music 20x12 - a programme designed to put new music centre stage of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. "We're doing something which I think is giving us a feeling of satisfaction," he says.
Lee Bofkin could be forgiven for feeling a little tense. He is the 29-year-old co-organiser of Fishtank, one of the country's biggest indoor arts festivals, which opens tomorrow. He is visibly on edge. "It could be because I've just drunk a massive mocha, but I'm a pretty excitable person anyway," he jokes.
Bofkin, along with co-founder Lewis Maleh, also 29, and musician Ben Friedman, 30, are staging an ambitious mix of creative arts aimed at bringing new audiences to genres such as street poetry, performance art and sketch comedy- all under one roof.
Like every story you ever heard, this one begins with a dame. In Closing Time Leonard Cohen says of a reveller: "She's 100 but she's wearing something tight." Well, Elana Fremerman ain't one hundred, not by a long shot, and she's wearing something tight. Her dress is redder than the devil's toenails, which is fitting since she is playing his music on her fiddle.
The Bangles had it all. Good looks, critical acclaim and a series of infectious chart hits. For a period in the 1980s, with songs such as Manic Monday, Walk Like An Egyptian and Eternal Flame, the all-girl four piece from California were one of the biggest acts in the music business. But there was something else that made them really special. Unlike other girl bands - think Spice Girls or Girls Aloud - The Bangles wrote much of their own material, actually played their instruments, and made their own decisions about how to present themselves.
Back in the mid-1960s Jonathan Klein - then a high school student with a passion for jazz - was approached to compose something for his synagogue. Klein had the novel idea of setting Shabbat prayers to jazz.
Alisa Weilerstein, one of the cello's brightest rising stars, was accorded a huge honour earlier this year when she performed Elgar's Cello Concerto under the baton of Daniel Barenboim. Barenboim is said to have associated the work so deeply with his first wife, the cellist Jacqueline du Pré, that for many years after her death he preferred not to conduct it at all. Weilerstein was in effect stepping into du Pré shoes.
To those who remember him at all, Eddie Fisher was the husband of Debbie Reynolds who left her for Elizabeth Taylor and went on to have a sex life that made him more headlines than his career ever did as a singer.
On the other hand, to Jews of a certain age, particularly in America, he was the young, clean-cut man who had a voice that was so perfect they called him the "Jewish Frank Sinatra". They heard him sing Sunrise, Sunset, and the women swooned and the men kvelled.
Gustav Mahler is without a doubt the musical flavour of 2010. But not only that - the anniversary celebrations currently in full swing will extend into 2011, since the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth and the centenary of his death fall in these consecutive years.
In 2001, Kobi Farhi was sitting at his desk in Tel Aviv, checking his email. Farhi was the lead singer of Orphaned Land, an Israeli heavy metal band which at that time had not played together since 1994. Whatever was on Farhi's mind that day, it was probably not their music.
Devotees of the Leeds International Piano Competition may remember Katya Apekisheva in the final in 1996, playing Rachmaninov's second piano concerto. She was just 20 and her performance earned her a top prize, even if not the number one slot some thought she deserved.