sat 27/08/2016

Features & Interviews

Soulful Islamic passion: the Najmuddin Saifuddin group

Peter Culshaw

Qawwali music is amongst the most soulful, passionate music in the world. Many people have discovered it through the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who was one the greatest singers of the last half century. Seeing him perform at an early WOMAD was a revelation - he was scheduled to perform for 90 minutes and kept singing for hours. No-one seemed to leave the tent to catch the headliners. In fact, they say for Qawwali to have its real impact, the performances should last at least a couple of...

theartsdesk at the Rosendal Festival: Schubert above a fjord

David Nice

More than just a great and serious pianist, Leif Ove Andsnes is a Mensch. His special gift in recent years has been to bring young musicians just establishing their careers together with star players like himself in beautiful and/or interesting places. I feel privileged to have heard him and his juniors in a programme of rare Sibelius melodramas in Bergen, Kurtág and Liszt in the main room of Grieg's humble home at Troldhaugen, and two shared recitals linked to the revelatory exhibition of...

Edinburgh Festival: Boulez celebration, Andreas...

David Kettle

Remarkably, Pierre Boulez made his first appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival way back in 1948, at only the Festival’s second ever...

theartsdesk in Venice: Shylock comes home

Heather Neill

"In such a night as this..." begins Lorenzo's beautiful speech in Act V of The Merchant of Venice. Watching Shakespeare's play in the Campo del...

theartsdesk in Odessa: Films and post-truth in...

Peter Culshaw

With Ukraine embroiled in conflict and a currency crisis the Odessa International Film Festival does not have the budget to bring in big stars. In...

What are the arts doing here?

John Martin

The artistic director of Pan Intercultural Arts explains its pioneering work ahead of Southbank's Festival of Love

theartsdesk at the Pärnu Music Festival 2016

David Nice

A love-letter to the greatest orchestral playing in a perfect Estonian seaside town

theartsdesk at the Montreal Jazz Festival

Martin Longley

Mainline jazz, roots, and global sounds abound in the planet's biggest jazzfest

theartsdesk in the Faroe Islands: G! Festival 2016

Kieron Tyler

A sense of communion at the North Atlantic festival where rain never stops play

Pick of the BBC Proms 2016


Choices, choices from the world's biggest music festival, starting on Friday

First Person: the Herbert Howells Cello Concerto completed

Guy Johnston

Cellist Guy Johnston on the serendipitous moment that led to his premiere of the Herbert Howells concerto

Brian Friel, the private playwright of Ballybeg

Jasper Rees

The Northern Irish stage craftsman celebrated for Dancing at Lughnasa and Faith Healer

Opinion: Post-Brexit, we need theatre more than ever

Marianka Swain

The arts hold the key to our collective humanity

theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Nocturnes for Midsummer

David Nice

Pianist-curator Víkingur Ólafsson goes wandering with friends

First Person: Boys Will Be Boys

Melissa Bubnic

Melissa Bubnic introduces her new play about women working in a man’s world

theartsdesk at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016

David Kettle

Little pomp but plenty of eclectic entertainment at the EIFF's 70th edition

Edinburgh celebrates British films

Demetrios Matheou

Timothy Spall is amongst a host of talent lining up in two very different British films

The Mighty Walzer: ping-pong in the round

Simon Bent

Howard Jacobson's much-loved novel is coming to the stage. Simon Bent explains how he adapted it

theartsdesk at the Holland Festival

James Woodall

Dutchness, audio-jungle, dirty minds and Dunsinane at one of Europe's premier arts festivals

The Edinburgh International Film Festival tees off with golfing drama

Demetrios Matheou

Film festival celebrates its 70th anniversary and Trainspotting's 20th

Alberto Remedios: 'his natural instrument obeyed his inner thoughts with ease'

Linda Esther Gray

A great Isolde remembers a great Tristan, who has died aged 81

A salute to Dave Swarbrick's singing

Graham Fuller

The legendary Fairport Convention fiddler also had a voice to reckon with

theartsdesk at the Istanbul Music Festival: classics alla Turca

David Nice

A top Turkish orchestra and a legendary native pianist do their great city proud

First Light: the story of the Tommies shot at dawn

Mark Hayhurst

Mark Hayhurst introduces his play about the shell-shocked British soldiers executed in the Great War

Seasick Steve – A Myth Unravels

Matthew Wright

The author of the hobo-bluesman's new biography scrapes his chin from the floor

Dream On: Surprises in the Athenian Wood

Simon Evans

There are Dreams aplenty in Shakespeare's anniversary year. Southwark Playhouse will go for different, says director Simon Evans

theartsdesk in Prague: Czech Spring with Smetana and Martinů

David Nice

The native greats illuminated in their homeland's glorious capital

The wisdom and wit of Carla Lane

Jasper Rees

The creator of 'The Liver Birds', 'Bread' and 'Butterflies' recalled in her own words

Is Wales really the land of song?

Professor Gareth Williams

As Festival of Voice opens in Cardiff with Bryn Terfel, Charlotte Church and John Cale, a historian explains Wales's choral roots


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?

latest in today

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Shostakovich, Tommy Smith

German symphonies, Russian chamber music and Scottish history through the e...

CD: Britney Spears - Glory

Has the Queen of Comebacks done it again?

Fleabag, BBC Three

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's brilliant dark comedy about loneliness and grie...

Prom 53: Stadler, RLPO, Petrenko

Ravishing night of Russian greats and young artists from the Liverpool Phil

Blu-ray: Women in Love

Exemplary package celebrating Ken Russell’s compelling DH Lawrence adaptati...

Six of the best: Film

theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top films out now

Six of the best: Theatre

Lee Hall's miraculous 'Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour' lead...


Almodóvar's moving portrait of a mother's grief, adapted from Ali...

Soulful Islamic passion: the Najmuddin Saifuddin group

It can be dangerous to sing Qawwali - the greatest group of recent times is...

CD: Warhaus - We Fucked a Flame Into Being

Belgian singer stylishly realises ten tracks of doomed torch pop