Arts and Entertainment

“The running total is 171.1 miles, not quite halfway,” groans Mason after the District Line, though this reader had the thought that no one forced him to do an overground trek of the Underground.

LSO/Gergiev, St Paul's Cathedral, London

St Paul's Cathedral might be seen as the ultimate destination for a man already regarded as the omnipotent force in London musical life. But what should have been the crowning glory of Valery Gergiev's Mahler cycle – the mighty Eighth – was here bestowed with very mixed blessings indeed. The newly restored St Paul's is a thing of wonder, invoking silent awe beneath its great dome. But it's not a place for music on this scale.

Halle Orchestra / Elder, St Paul's Cathedral, London

Acoustics are fascinating. Clothe your auditorium in velvet and the sound is devoured without trace; clad it in polished wood, and it pings straight back. Fan-shaped halls dissipate sound, but the perfect acoustic form remains the humble shoebox. For mystery and suggestiveness, though, you can't beat a big church: the side-chapels give the sound back transformed, and in St Paul's, with its multiple echo-chambers, the effect can be magical.

Preview: Halle Orchestra/Elder, St Paul's Cathedral, London

Is conducting an orchestra a physically tiring occupation? The conductor Mark Elder, 61, who was knighted in the 2008 Queen's birthday honours list and who is in charge of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, is to conduct a concert at St Paul's Cathedral, as part of the City of London Festival.

Don Carlo, Royal Opera House, London<br />Bluebeard, Grange Park Opera, Hampshire<br />L'incoronazione di Dario, Garsington Opera, Oxfordshire

Thrillingly sung and impressively staged, Verdi's tragedy is an </p><p>object lesson in musical theatre

Bruce Anderson: We are destroying the very values which could save us in our battle against Islam

Europe has immense strengths. The resources of civilisation are not exhausted

Album: Padilla, Streams of Tears &ndash; The Sixteen/Christophers (Coro)

One of Spain's most successful émigrés, Juan Gutierrez de Padilla (1590-1664) was "maestro de capilla" of Puebla Cathedral, Mexico. Harry Christophers and the Sixteen reveal a composer with a talent for beatific radiance, best expressed in the Sanctus of the "Missa Ave Regina caelorum" and a glorious setting of "Deus in adiutorium" with twinkling harp.

One step forward...One step back, The Cathedral, Liverpool

It might be going a bit far to compare One Step Forward ... One Step Back, the new production by the Brighton-based company dreamthinkspeak, to the magnificence of Dante's vision, but One Step Forward takes his Paradiso and brilliantly transposes its imagined journey from Hell to Paradise to the nooks, crannies and galleries of Liverpool Cathedral. Giles Gilbert Scott could scarcely have imagined what profound and whimsical ideas would one day percolate through his spectacular building.

Dairy Crest warns of more price hikes

Cathedral City and Clover group Dairy Crest today said more price increases were on the way as it battles to offset soaring costs.

Requiem By Sir John Tavener, Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool

As Mahler discovered, it can be better for a composer not to go into details about the philosophical stimulus of a piece of music. All you really need to know about Sir John Tavener's Requiem, commissioned as part of the city's Capital of Culture programme, is that it is textually multi-faith and musically multidimensional. And lasts a mere half-hour.

Preview: Tavener's Requiem, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool

A ferocious dance in the face of death

You write the reviews: Rutti's Requiem, Winchester Cathedral

The Swiss composer Carl Rütti is the latest in a notable line of composers to have been commissioned by the Bach Choir, with support from the Swiss Cultural Fund, to write a large choral work. The remit was for a piece of about 20 minutes in length, but the finished work lasts just less than an hour, and employs the choir, two soloists and an orchestra of strings with a harp and an organ.

Sarah Sands: We could learn some lessons from 'The Choir'

Once I stopped being a newspaper editor, I began to notice a discrepancy between the sorts of things journalists were interested in and what their readers liked. Journalists like crime and politics and sex. Readers care about gardening and, as it turns out, singing.

LSO & Chorus / Tilson Thomas, Barbican Hall, London

One way of looking at Janacek's Glagolitic Mass is to imagine that the voices raised in affirmation and outrage are those of pagans who have been Christian for about a week. The idea of shouting one's message from the mountain tops is here taken to literal extremes – just one manifestation of the work's non-liturgical roots.

Name that cathedral - the answers

A new grant from English Heritage could help safeguard the future of 28 of the country's most beautiful cathedrals. But can you tell which of them is which?

The Complete Guide To: Zanzibar

The exotic name says it all: these islands off the east coast of Africa are a heady mix of coral beaches, weird wildlife, spicy history &ndash; and voodoo, says James Palmer
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