Arts and Entertainment

Josie Long is an award-winning comedian and writer. She will perform with Robin Ince in Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre (10-22 Dec) and also on tour in Robin and Josie’s Shambles.

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Elder, Royal Festival Hall, London

Engaging Anne-Sophie Mutter for the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto is certainly one way of guaranteeing a full house for orchestral rarities by Martinu and Strauss. Throw in a rather charming public defence of the Strauss - the much-maligned Symphonia Domestica - by the conductor, Mark Elder, and you've got yourself an event.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Gatti, Royal Festival Hall, London

Mahler had a superstitious fear of tackling his Ninth Symphony, and the score he completed in 1909 is duly riven with anguish, nostalgia and farewell gestures. Its 1912 premiere did indeed prove posthumous.

Ensemble Intercontemporain/Boulez, Royal Festival Hall, London

This culminating concert of the Southbank's synoptic Olivier Messiaen festival, on the very day of his centenary, should have felt like a celebration.

Lost and Found Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, London

Christmas is when the Southbank Centre rediscovers its raison d'être: this year, the foyer features a giant "melting igloo" in which films about Arctic explorers are screened, while the stage of the Festival Hall is festooned with instruments of a sort never seen there before: giant marimbas and xylophones of wood, plastic, glass; oil cans, rubbish bins and builders' chutes; bellows, thunder-machines, and every kind of drum. Three old-style Hoovers sit centre-stage.

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall, London

The Adagio from Mahler's 10th Symphony served as an upbeat (or should that be downbeat) kind of Liebestod or "love-death" before the "supreme ecstasy" of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde – Act II.

Riders to the Sea, Coliseum, London <br>Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jansons, Royal Festival Hall, London

Its conductor Richard Hickox may have died, but this slight Vaughan Williams show goes on

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nézet-Séguin, Royal Festival Hall, London

You generally know within seconds of the start of a performance if a conductor has what it takes to take us to that other place where senses are heightened. It was the performance of Ravel's La Valse at the start of Yannick Nézet-Séguin's first concert as principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic that will have convinced a lot of people of great things to come.

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, Royal Festival Hall, London

Few venues are less conducive to dance parties than London's Royal Festival Hall, and few ushers are less tolerant of patrons' Terpsichorean impulses. But tonight neither the structure nor its attendants stood a chance against the simple might of people power. By the end of Femi Kuti's show, the place was one writhing mass of flailing bodies, and the ushers could only gaze on with equanimity.

LPO/Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall, London

Tchaikovsky the melodist has consistently upstaged Tchaikovsky the craftsman; immensely popular he may be, but immensely misunderstood and underrated, too.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Nezet-Seguin, Royal Festival Hall

Conducting is a mystical business. You generally know within seconds of the start of a performance if he or she has what it takes to take an orchestra and an audience to that other place where senses are heightened and the air seems to move a little differently.

Shelby Lynne, Royal Festival Hall, London

While her younger sister Allison Moorer has pursued a straightforward career as a country performer, Shelby Lynne has had a more patchwork approach to music, her initial decade as a country artist being followed by her 1999 reinvention as a rhythm and blues singer on I Am Shelby Lynne, and more recently by this year's album of reinterpreted songs from the Dusty Springfield catalogue, Just a Little Lovin'.

Forever Heavenly, Royal Festival Hall, London

Songs of praise for posterity

The Wizard of Oz, Royal Festival Hall, London

Well, it's "Ha, ha, ha. Ho, ho, ho – and a couple of tra-la-las" for Christmas seems to have come early to the South Bank in the shape of Jude Kelly's production of The Wizard of Oz. The timing is a tad bizarre – rather as though a TV channel were to schedule It's a Wonderful Life on August Bank Holiday. But sometimes the out-of-season can be a welcome wonder: just think of that magical fall of snow on the sunny field of poppies that awakens Dorothy and her chums and saves them from the Wicked Witch.

First Night: The Wizard of Oz, Royal Festival Hall, London

A well-oiled show, but the Festival Hall is no Oz
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