Arts and Entertainment

Autumnal gloom may be descending, but cinematically there are manifold reasons to be cheerful, as the studios stem the stream of comic-book blockbusters (next week’s Thor sequel excepted) and wheel out their prestige fare on the hunt for some of next year’s Oscars. 

Virtuoso's trip destroys priceless Stradivarius

As a former child prodigy blessed with chiselled good looks, they called him the David Beckham of the classical violin. Now he is more likely to be known as the lad with the broken Strad.

explore valo

Few people are well-versed on the glories of Finland, but that is all set to change with the advent of "Valo" (meaning light), a six-week celebration of Finnish culture, which begins tomorrow at the Barbican. The festival coincides with the 80th anniversary of Finnish Independence, and covers every cultural experience, from music to film, visual arts to tango. Among the highlights of a very full programme of events are the LSO Sibelius Cycle, conducted by Sir Colin Davis, at the Barbican Hall (16, 20, 23, 26, 30 Nov); a film season (22 Nov-6 Dec) including the black comedy The Christmas Party (below); and Talvi, a site-specific installation in the Concourse Gallery (from 17 Nov). Tango Finlandia (22 Nov) will be an afternoon of tango, song and dance, and for the duration of "Valo", there's "Lastu" a selling exhibition of furniture and crafts by leading Finnish designers. For Christmas cheer, there will even be an Internet link with Santa in Lapland. Something for everyone.

Classical The Charles Ives Festival The Barbican, London

'Ives may be baffling at times, but there is something so palpably alive in work after work'

The Broader Picture: Mixed and Matched

Here, reunited, are the nine couples pictured as unattached individuals on pages 40-41. If you recognise yourself in one of the pictures, and if you are still together as a couple, write to The Broader Picture, Sunday Review, Independent on Sunday, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB, and we will send you a bunch of roses. Martin Parr's photographs can be seen as part of a larger exhibition of photographs of families, 'Who's Looking at the Family?', at the Barbican Centre from 26 May to 4 September. -

Departures: Apartment hotel for London

THE concept of the apartment hotel, which offers the flexibility of self-catering in a hotel environment, is well known in other parts of the world, but has not yet become established in Britain. The French Orion group, which has a chain of 32 apartment hotels in France and Belgium, including three in Paris, has now opened one in London - the first of what it hopes will be a UK chain.

Law Update: Taking the initiative

Turner Kenneth Brown is to be one of four main sponsors of 'Business in Britain', an initiative to support private businesses. The initiative includes awards for 'Growing Businesses of the Year' and a three-day conference and exhibition at London's Barbican Centre in the winter.

THEATRE / The Two Gentlemen of Verona - Barbican Theatre

Beneath the topsy-turvy entanglements of Shakespeare's strongest comedies tugs a strict pattern of symmetry - an awareness of how things should be. This sense of order is so absent in The Two Gentlemen of Verona that 10 minutes before the end you start wondering how on earth the rows and character defects can be sorted out. But while Shakespeare may fudge the issue, Barry Lynch resolves it with a smile - a smug, arrogant smile which then cracks with the full force of self-awareness. Proteus, he makes you feel, had simply forgotten himself.

MUSIC / LSO / Hickox - Barbican Hall

Both Tippett's oratorio A Child of Our Time and Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess declare their composers' identification with the down-trodden and the oppressed by borrowing musical symbols from black culture - rather surprisingly so in the case of Tippett, whose use of spirituals paralleling Bach's of Lutheran chorales, although by now a locus classicus, still sounds movingly fresh.
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Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?