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A bitter row over the existing skatepark has forced the centre to delay its £120m overhaul

Britten Sinfonia/Padmore, Queen Elizabeth Hall

What is Englishness in music? The young string players of the Britten Sinfonia don’t pose the question explicitly in their current touring programme, but it’s hovering in the surrounding ether.

Festival of Britain returns to London's Southbank

London's Southbank is to be transformed with a modern restaging of the Festival of Britain to mark the event's 60th anniversary, with contributions from Tracey Emin, Ray Davies and Heston Blumenthal.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Pierre-Laurent Aimard may be 53, but he still comes across like the miraculous child he was when Messiaen made him his adoptive son.

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall

As if it wasn’t enough to open a new London Philharmonic season with a simply tremendous performance of Mahler's 3rd Symphony, Vladimir Jurowski could not resist adding a preface. And the music he chose not only reminded us of the intriguing connection with Mahler's younger contemporary, Alexander Zemlinsky, in that both men loved the same woman, Alma Schindler, it also looked at life, love, and destiny from an obliquely different perspective.

Ernesto Neto, Hayward Gallery, London

Festival Brazil kicks off on the South Bank with Ernesto Neto's dazzling playground for adults. Art shouldn't be this much fun...

Brazilian triangle: three historical capitals

As a festival showcasing South America's biggest country arrives at the South Bank in London, we celebrate Brazil's three historic capitals

Paolo Nutini, Royal Festival Hall, London

By the time Paolo Nutini swoops into "High Hopes", the third song of a rousing and beautifully chaotic evening, it's clear that any sense of decorum that the Royal Festival Hall exerts is hanging by a thread: nervous stewards (and bizarrely, or not, depending on how hard you care to think about it, ushers with mops), shepherd grinning, swooning dancers back to their seats.

Brazil! Brazil!Southbank Centre, London

Note the spelling: it may be written "Brasil" on the cast's football strips, but this show wants to explain its country to a British audience. Different numbers introduce ideas of Brazilian dance, music and football, with a laddish emphasis on the fighting origins of the dance capoeira and on the importance of the beautiful game. A large section of the audience, on this evidence, is keen for the men to take their shirts off. Both sides get what they want, in a cheerful and sometimes chaotic show.

Scour museum gift shops for divine designs

They may not be the first place you think to look while shopping for the best in contemporary design, but – as these original and quirky pieces show – museum shops are about much more than postcards and erasers

Cedric Tiberghien, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Clean-limbed, shining-eyed Cedric Tiberghien, 35, still comes across like the miraculous child he was when he won the Paris Conservatoire’s Premier Prix at seventeen, and his approach to the piano still has a vernal innocence.

Best of '09: Ed Ruscha, 50 Years of Painting, Hayward Gallery, London

Larry Ryan on the Ed Ruscha retrospective at the Hayward Gallery. Plus: nominate your favourite cultural moments of the year.

Robert Glasper with Bilal and Stonephace, Southbank Centre, London

You get the feeling that this evening was an attempt to be ‘hip’. If this was the case it limped in the awkward way the person who did the bill might have said it, or need a new one at least.

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Nezet-Seguin, Queen Elizabeth Hall

The biggest “surprise” of this splendid Haydn bicentennial celebration turned out to be the earlier start time. The rude fortissimo chord which gives Symphony No 94 its nickname was sounding on TV monitors throughout the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer as this commentator arrived in good time for a 7.30 start. But even the tinny sound and poor image of the latecomers monitor gave one an immediate sense of the charm and exuberance that conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin was already eliciting from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. And there would be plenty of surprises where that first one came from.

Handel Remixed, Barbican Hall, London<br/>The Bernstein Project, Royal Festival Hall, London<br/>The Damnation of Faust, Barbican Hall, London

Take five composers, think 'bland and commercial', cut and paste a few bars, and call it an anniversary tribute? How depressing

Ornette Coleman, Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre, London

Ambling onstage in sparkly silver suit and lime-green shirt, Ornette Coleman displays the disregard for prevailing tastes and fashions that has shocked jazz fans for half a century and more. Okay, inventing Free Jazz was one thing – but lime green and silver? What kind of way is this for a man on the cusp of 80 to dress?

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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

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Dame Harriet Walter interview

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Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

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Bill Granger's winter salads

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George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

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