The shopping channel virtuoso

September 7, 2010

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.


Meet the pianist who played solo for 27 hours

September 2, 2010

For a performer whose work can be so funny, Chilly Gonzales can come across as taking himself a little too seriously. Gonzales, real name Jason Beck, is the Canadian whose big breakthrough was the 2001 electro-rap hit, Take Me To Broadway.


America's got talent - and they're in town to prove it

August 26, 2010

The best new Jewish bands come from Brooklyn. The contention will be tested in London next week when some of New York's top up-and-coming acts attempt to show that the scene over here cannot hold a menorah candle to theirs.

The concert, at The Macbeth venue in Hoxton, features DeLeon and Girls in Trouble, both signed to the Jdub record label. Jdub, whose most famous signing is the Orthodox rapper Matisyahu, is just one of a few New York Jewish labels that have been growing in the past few years. There are no such labels dedicated to nurturing Jewish acts in London.


Coming to the Proms: MidEast's rivers of blood

By Jessica Duchen, August 19, 2010

It is not every day that a living female composer finds herself centre-stage at the BBC Promenade Concerts. Betty Olivero, whose work, Neharot, Neharot, is to be performed at the afternoon Prom on August 21, is overjoyed as she plans her trip to London.

The association the Proms held with her mentor - the late Luciano Berio, doyen of the Italian avant-garde - counts for a great deal. "The Proms have dedicated many programmes to Berio's music in the past," she says. "For me to be played there, where my teacher was so prominent, is a very emotional moment."


It's another talented Arad, with her own grand designs

By Nick Johnstone, August 12, 2010

When London based, British-Israeli singer-songwriter Lail Arad was a child, her father, the acclaimed designer Ron Arad, used to sing her to sleep.

"My dad plays guitar nicely," says Arad sipping mint tea in a cafe behind Oxford street. "And he used to change words to Leonard Cohen songs to be about me and my teddy bears and I was sure he wrote them all."


In Glasto's circus, we're the Animals

By Elisa Bray, July 28, 2010

Gabby Young and Other Animals are having a good summer. In June they played at Glastonbury and are now looking forward to several more festival appearances over the next couple of months.

Their single, We're All In This Together, was picked by Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis for the Storm the Charts competition, which aims to boost the profile and sales of 40 independent artists. Other Animals were the most downloaded band among all the groups chosen.


The Israeli rocker who wishes he could be more angry

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2010

For Israeli musicians, politics comes with the territory. Except that Asaf Avidan does not see it that way.

"I haven't ever written anything political. I write about what I feel," he insists. "It's like cheating if I sit down to write about an issue. I do listen to a lot of political artists and I wish I could feel as angry as they are so that it pours out into my music."

He adds, defensively: "If I want to go to a protest, I'll go to a protest, but I won't write a song about it."


The National: America's Radiohead

July 15, 2010

This has been a fine year for The National. The Brooklyn-based band saw their fifth album, High Violet, peak at number three in the US album charts and number five in the UK. They sold out the Royal Albert Hall, were a hit at the Glastonbury Festival last month and will be playing two nights at the Brixton Academy this autumn. Not bad for a group that spent the first five years of their existence regularly playing to crowds in single figures.


Interview: Lucinda Belle

By Paul Lester, July 1, 2010

It would probably be easier to list the things that session musician, recording artist and all-round busy bee Lucinda Belle has not done. She has toured with the Pet Shop Boys and Annie Lennox, been Robbie Williams's backing singer and harpist at the BBC Electric Proms, performed a duet with Mel Brooks and jammed with Tom Jones.


The moment when Matisyahu lost his cool

By Paul Lester, June 17, 2010

This is probably not the ideal moment to be interviewing Matisyahu, unless you enjoy the company of fired-up pop stars. Because it's the Tuesday after the Gaza aid flotilla incident and the Chasidic reggae artist and rapper - staying at the Holiday Inn in Brent Cross as he promotes his latest album, Light - is not happy.

The rangy New Yorker, 31 at the end of June, prowls around his hotel bedroom in kippah and green jogging pants. He places his tallit under his crumpled white T-shirt and sits down on the couch. In between mouthfuls of vegan curry, he assesses the events of the weekend.