Upbeat: By the book

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The Independent Culture
SEE a day called 'The Four Quartets' programmed at the Hay Festival and you think of an Eliot seminar. But this year the burgeoning book bash beside the Wye, now sponsored by the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, has introduced a programme of contemporary music-making. On familiar literary ground there is a preview on 28 May of Vikram Seth's collaboration with the composer Alec Roth on a community opera, Arion and the Dolphin, which has its full premiere in Plymouth from the ENO's Baylis Programme in June.

The session two days before, however, is adventurous in musical terms too - a rare convergence of four leading string quartets. At noon the Taliesin plays, followed by the Balanescu at 3.00pm, the Alberni at 5.30pm and the Brodsky at 8.00pm. Repertoire includes Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert as well as pieces by Britten and Carl Vine and some of the Balanescu's new collaborations. Nigel Kennedy and Friends play on 24 May, and on the 23rd there is Stephen McNeff's 'thriller opera' for Modern Music Theatre Troupe, The Waste Land (not Eliot's words, but about them). Booking details on p26.

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