Arts and Entertainment Will.i.am onstage at the Capital FM Summertime Ball at Wembley in London.

Will.i.am, Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons are among the stars who have recorded new versions of celebrated protest songs to highlight issues of global poverty.

Arts: String something simple

Say goodbye to the stuffy string quartet. Now they're the preserve of trendy twentysomethings.

CLASSICAL Fretwork Wigmore Hall, London

The news that the counter-tenor Michael Chance had awoken voiceless on the day of Fretwork's 10th anniversary concert must have come as a rather unwelcome birthday present. The more so because Fretwork is not just an ace viol consort but a vibrant performing ensemble commissioning composers of today whose works are programmed alongside masterpieces of England's golden age. In no less than four contemporary works, Chance was to have been the vocal soloist, so finding a replacement for this repertoire at such short notice must have felt a tall order. But on Sunday at the Wigmore Hall, all hands (or friends) were on deck to make sure that Fretwork could justly celebrate their first 10 years, retaining virtually the entire programme, through the gallant intervention of Emma Kirkby and Deborah Miles-Johnson. The six-viol consort is one of the wonders of instrumental sound. So homogeneous in blend and so affecting in colour, this reedy group offers much to composers today. And not just composers brought up with the knowledge of England's great heritage.

ARTS : LATER WITH ELVIS

Tonight, BBC2 is celebrating Elvis Costello's 20 years in the music business. Meanwhile, the songwriter best known for his caustic lyrics is considering making an album without words. Well, you might say, how typical

Music: Meltdown QEH, London

There's something so naff about Meltdown. The title is meaningless; the extravagant programme book virtually without information; the presentation chaotic. Don't mind that your audience won't have a clue about what's being played: "The programme for tonight's concert will be announced from the stage." They must be kidding! A romp through half a dozen names; no notes about anybody; no notes about any pieces; no light to read by anyway. The South Bank goes anarchic. Anarchy? Not likely. Appalling management more like.

James Rampton on comedy

After several visits to these shores, the American stand-up Rich Hall (right) now feels as at home in Britain as he does in the States. "I feel lost in America, too," he reveals. "It was Elvis Costello who said, `home is wherever you hang your head'. I can stare at a lot of pavements here just as well as in the States." It's this sense of bewilderment with the world that appeals to audiences. "I'm completely unslick," Hall avers. "My approach is to come up on stage and start babbling until a path is formed. It takes me about 10 minutes to create a certain atmosphere. I figure something will come out, and once the audience is into the rhythm, they'll go with me." Hall made his name in the US as a writer and performer on Late Night with David Letterman, but lately he's found that comedians take a lower precedence on America's top talk show. "The evolutionary ladder there goes: Shakespearean actors, movie stars, TV stars, people who spin plates, mime artists, country-and-western singers, comedians - then Michael Bolton." Still, he's topping the bill this weekend at the Cochrane when, he predicts, "I'm gonna tell the millionth joke of my career - I keep a count of them all. There's a marching-band and a baker with a cake standing by."

Elvis Costello All This Useless Beauty WEA 9362 41698-2

Like George Michael, Elvis Costello borrows from a classical source on his latest album - in his case, the Moonlight Sonata - though there the comparisons end. A lyrical lament for sad manhood, "Poor Fractured Atlas", the song in question, reveals exactly the kind of contemplative vulnerability absent from Older.

Unhappy talk

ROCK Luke Haines is not your average pop star. Ryan Gilbey talks to the man who would break both his ankles rather than be 'too in tune with the music business'

Memorable performances from Costello and the Brodsky Quartet

The Brodsky Quartet QEH, London

Music: BRODSKY QUARTET QEH, London

The Brodsky Quartet looks like a classy busking act - three lads stand while the lady takes the seat; yet Monday's "Meltdown'' recital at the QEH was anything but polite. The music itself was rich in narrative incident, from the eerie desert noises of Peter Sculthorpe's Jabiru Dreaming to the simulated machine-gun fire of Shostakovich's Eighth Quartet.

Melange of emotions

Music: MELTDOWN; South Bank, London

Brits with knobs on

'If we must have awards, let them be Ivors.'; You get a better class of acceptance speech here. Reg Presley has had such a busy year that he'd 'only just got me runner beans in'

ELVIS COSTELLO

The novelist and critic Rachel Cusk hails Elvis Costello as king of literate pop music

Guess what? I've got a message to ring Elvis Costello

THERE is a message on my answer machine from Elvis Costello. He wants me to ring him. When you join the wonderful world of showbiz, you quickly find yourself meeting all sorts of famous people. I've had dinner with two Beatles and a Rolling Stone;I've said "hello" to Whitney Houston and shared a cab with Larry Adler. But Elvis Costello is different from all these because he was one of my heroes between the ages of 15 and 17. I call these "the critical years" because if I meet a hero from this period, there is nothing I can do to stop myself reverting to my teenage self. I grin, giggle hysterically at their jokes, go bright red and hyperventilate. When I was 15 my great Aunt Nancy gave me a book of Alan Bennett plays, and I thought he was the bees knees. He lives round the corner from me now, and I occasionally see him in the street and start to shake. I can't help staring at him until he eventually locks eyes, and after a couple of seconds of embarrassed silence he tends to say "'lo". " 'Lo," I reply too loudly, and shuffle past him as fast as my fat legs will carry me.

Getting vocal about criminal justice

What makes Elvis Costello go weak at the knees? You're wrong. It isn't posing for the picture on the cover of My Aim is True. It's listening to the creamy-rich voice of June Tabor(7.20pm R4). "Anyone who doesn't like June Tabor should stop listeni ng to music," says the punk rocker turned quartetmeister. Few who have heard it would disagree.
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