We're brainy - and proud

By Jessica Elgot, December 22, 2010

When Foals first arrived on the scene, they looked like the definitive geeky "indie kid" band, with eyes hidden beneath dark, sweeping haircuts, artistic beards, staccato guitars and yelping lyrics.

Their infectious hooks and boisterous concerts might not have sounded overly heartfelt, but they had rapid commercial success, with their debut album, Antidotes, reaching number three in the charts.


Queen of a musical dynasty - just don't cross her on Bach

By Jessica Elgot, December 21, 2010

When you are a member of the Wallfisch family, there is a certain inevitability about the way your life will pan out. There is very little chance of escaping a career in music.

Violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch married cellist Raphael Wallfisch and all three of their children are musicians. Her husband's parents are pianist Peter Wallfisch and cellist Anita Lasker Wallfisch who wrote a powerful memoir on playing music in Auschwitz. Elizabeth's young nephew, Abraham Wallfisch Jacobs, is a promising cellist.


He wants new (music) tracks for the Olympics

By Anne Joseph, December 10, 2010

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.


The mud-free festival. And no Portaloos, either

By Jessica Elgot, November 25, 2010

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.


Meet Elana and the cream of Cowtown

By Clive Sinclair, October 28, 2010

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 batmitzvah girl who walked like an Egyptian

By Paul Lester, October 21, 2010

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.


Jazzing up Shabbat

By Simon Round, October 7, 2010

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.


The new Jacqueline du Pré? Barenboim might just agree

By Jessica Duchen, October 7, 2010

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.


Eddie Fisher, from shul choirboy to Jewish Sinatra

By Michael Freedland, September 28, 2010

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.


Conducting a personal relationship with Mahler

By Jessica Duchen, September 21, 2010

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.