Colors: Red Color

Finnish symphonic metal gods Nightwish released their brand-new best-of compilation ‘Decades’ on March 9th through Nuclear Blast to celebrate more than two decades of their career. It's only right, then, that this milestone should be celebrated with an extensive world tour! Currently touring North America, the band are pleased to announce that they will be bringing the tour to the UK in December. This will also be the band’s first UK tour since 2012, so these shows are absolutely not to be missed.

They have also revealed that special guests will be up and coming heavy metallers and label mates Beast In Black, led by former Battle Beast guitarist Anton Kabanen.

Let's be honest; it doesn't take any overstated words to present this exceptional band called Nightwish to the world out there, for they are the undisputed pioneers of symphonic metal and the icons of a whole genre. Their virtuosity is consummate perfection, their inspiration lived passion! Nightwish truly understand how to captivate and enchant within seconds. Since the beginning of their career which started on a mild summer night in July 1996, they have been regarded as the epitome of the most demanding, compositional music art and innovative sound ventures.

‘Decades’ unites the most important songs of the band on two CD's in their original versions. The Suomi sound makers have always been recognised for their exciting journey of discovery and as a tribute to all that, this release presents a phenomenal cross-section of this formidable career through the lens of their grandiose evolution

A ‘murder mystery’ play that is so left-field of its genre, that by the end, it does a complete 360-degree – with a lot of bumps and barges along the way.

Playing at the Birmingham Hippodrome 'The Play That Goes Wrong' tells the story of Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s ‘Murder At Haversham Manor’ - while well established in its narrative – was refreshingly unique in its execution as everything that can go wrong, went brilliantly wrong.

With its Crossroads-esqe fragile and (in this case deliberately) wobbly sets their ‘Murder At Haversham Manor’ was a complete joy to watch – especially as its execution by its young, vibrant and ‘on-the-ball’ cast was so spot-on.

From the minute it was introduced by the arrogance and self-abasement Henry Shields, you knew were going to go on a ‘bumpy ride’ that, so much so, would leave Agatha Christie herself in the dark although chuckling in the aisles.

A typically Christie-style country-house whodunnit, but, in this case, you could well be leaving the theatre typically questioning; ‘Who actually did what?’

Such confusion, which began with the corpse of Charles - who couldn’t lie still – as a line-up of suspects; which included cast and crew, who so brilliantly put together this offbeat and very often very physical slapstick satire.

We caught up with Lovedale Harrison, Choir Director for the Sister Act Live Choir ahead of the show on Saturday to find out a bit more about the spectacle!

Sister Act has a great following, and obviously some amazing performances. What is your favourite song from the show?

My favourite song is “I Will Follow Him” I love everything about it. The lyrics, melody, harmonies… it has all the feels.

What can people expect of the show?

A great film and enjoyable performances! The film in itself is fantastic, it has a great cast, storyline, and message. But, the music is what really makes Sister Act so special. So, to be able to experience the songs live is extra special and to be able to sing along and dance with lots of other Sister Act fans makes for a great experience.


You’ve got a special guest performance by Gospel Singers Incognito, how has it been working with another choir?

It has been an amazing experience. Gospel Singers Incognito are a great addition to the show. I love listening to them while we wait to go on stage! They help us to get pumped for the show. It also helps that they are really nice people.


How did you get into Choir Direction?

I have sung in choirs my whole life and have always had fantastic choir directors.  I attended University of Roehampton and really wanted to join a Gospel Choir, but they didn’t have one, so I figured I’d just start my own one. I drew from my experience of being in choirs, as well as what I had seen from my previous choir directors, and I was fortunate enough to have 30+ amazing singers that were patient with me. Almost 10 years later now and I’m so glad that I took that leap of faith.


Any words of advice for someone looking to get involved in a choir or further their musical journey?

My advice would be, just get involved! Find out where anything musical is happening in your local areas and join in. Don’t be afraid, just go for it. Local choirs are particularly a great place to start,as you can learn so much about yourself and about music as a whole. 

Ahead of her Symphony Hall solo debut on the 12th April, we caught up with Ayanna Witter-Johnson to get a bit of an insight into the person behind the name.

How did you get into music?

At the very beginning I started learning the piano at 4, and I later picked up the Cello around 12/13 years old. Music was always in the house, my father was a DJ and an actor, and I always played an instrument.

What made you choose the Cello?

I was quite advanced at Piano and I wasn’t learning anything at secondary school and my teacher thought I should start something new so I had a bit of a challenge! I had a long instrument list, and I took it home one day and my mum was like “No drums, no brass, no woodwind in the house. Just strings.” So I was like okay, the double bass seems a bit big, I don’t know what a viola is really, and my hands seem a bit big for the violin!

How did you transition into the composition and arrangement side of what you do?

I had a passion for French and Spanish initially, and I missed my grades to get into my Uni of choice so I took a gap year, and during that time I ended up at a Jam session and felt like I wanted to take part but I didn’t do it. I went back after I had written this Nina Simone-esque song, and it went down really well, and I figured maybe I should pursue music in terms of my career choice.

I applied for Trinity College of Music at the time, now Trinity Laban, and again it was a process of elimination, I don’t want to be an opera singer, or a classical pianist, or a classical cellist, what can I do here that makes any sense? So I applied to the composition course to learn to write music and do what I wanted to do.

That was kind of the start of my career in music, where I made a lot of friends and contacts and really stepped out into the musical world.

How would you describe your style of performance, and your style of composing and arranging?

I would call it kind of eclectic orchestral R&B, very much singer cellist, percussive soulful songs.

Arrangement wise, a hint of reggae, contemporary classical, and elements of Jazz. It is a fusion and a half!

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment to date?

A few really great things have happened. Realising I wanted to be a performer, and being the only non-American to win Amateur Night Live at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York was one of the major turning points. Arranging for BBC Concert Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. Touring with Anoushka Shankar and Courtney Pine were also amazing experiences.

I can’t pick, those can all go in the pot!

Have you had a standout performance?

I had the privilege of being part of a very special show at Southbank at the Royal Festival Hall to commemorate the life of Maya Angelou. I met her in New York one New Years Day. That meeting was life changing for me, and playing at that event was amazing. That show was everything.

Who has inspired you?

Maya Angelou, Bjork, Steeley Dan, Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Oprah, James Baldwin, Kendrick Lamar. Too many people to count!

What can people expect from your show?

They can expect powerful songs, you will probably see me play the cello like you’ve never seen a cello played before. Very kind of soulful and blues-led, bluesey cello playing. A rich sonic landscape of emotional textures.

What is next for you? Anything exciting you can share with us?

It was celebrating 100 years of Ella Fitzgerald last year, and I just released an EP of remixes of my favourite songs of hers. I am releasing my debut album this summer, and I’ll be back in Birmingham more importantly on the 14th August for the Flyover Festival! I did a support slot maybe 4 or 5 years ago in Birmingham, but that was the last time I perfomed in the city, this will be my first real headline show in Birmingham. I am so so excited! I cannot wait!

There is also a wonderful documentary on Radio 4 that is on iPlayer called Portrait of an Artist. It features my dad, the process of how to write a song and about being an artist.


Have you got any words of advice or encouragement for people looking to break into the creative arts?

I would say focus on cultivating your authenticity, explore who you are uniquely and embrace that!

A University of Wolverhampton music lecturer has been composing and performing with national singing sensation, Jane McDonald.

Steve Cooper, Course Leader for Popular Music in the School of Performing Arts based at Walsall Campus, is featured as a guitarist on Jane’s new Channel 5 music show ‘Jane and Friends’ which is currently being aired weekly on Friday evenings at 9.00 pm (repeated on Saturday night).

Steve specialises in teaching guitar, performance, harmony and songwriting at the University and is an acoustic and electric guitar examiner.  He has also performed and recorded with international artists including Robert Plant, Lionel Richie, Journey South and Ben Mills from X Factor UK.

Steve performed with West End star Kerry Ellis and on forthcoming episodes showcasing The Overtones, Tony Hadley and Shayne Ward.

“This show is throwback to the great weekend music shows that were slowly replaced by talent competitions on the Saturday night schedules and is a chance to hear Jane sing and perform with her band, alongside some very special guests.

“The first show had excellent viewing figures and I was also featured as a songwriter in episode 1 - with a track I co-wrote with Jane, ‘I’ll be there’, which also features on her latest album, ‘Hold The Covers Back’.

“I've worked with Jane for ten years on many tours and previous albums and this has been another really exciting project to be part of, filming performances of over forty songs in front of a live studio audience. ”

As a guitar arranger and transcriber, Steve has completed more than fifty published works for Music Sales including album folios by Queens of The Stone Age (Songs for The Deaf), The Vines (Highly Evolved) and The Clash’s ‘Complete Chord Songbook’.  Other arrangements include tracks by Foo Fighters, Morrissey, System Of A Down, Velvet Revolver, The Killers, Funeral For A Friend, Maximo Park, Nine Inch Nails and Kaiser Chiefs

A special film of a Stadium Theatre production which includes the memories of West Bromwich Albion fans is to be shown at Smethwick Library.

The staff at the library are working in partnership with Black Country Touring to showcase the production which was a recent production at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

The film, which highlights the thrill of football is told through the drama of theatre, will be screened at the library on Wednesday 28 March at 7pm. Doors open 6.30pm.

It highlights the atmosphere of a live football match in this exhilarating journey through the stories of real Albion, Birmingham City and  Aston Villa.

And it also shares the fans’ extraordinary memories of everything from relationships made to friendships lost.

One of the UK’s best known ‘upcyclers’ is adding his support to a new community wood recycling business in Wolverhampton.

Local entrepreneur and TV star Jay Blades joined the Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton Phil Page to officially open Wood Saints yesterday and immediately praised the social enterprise’s commitment to providing training, volunteering and employment opportunities for up to 30 people every year.

More than 30 delegates were treated to a guided tour of the company’s Wood Depot in Dixon Street and heard how it plans to give unwanted wood heading for landfill a new lease of life by creating new products or recycling it into useable material.

Backed by a £220,000 grant from the Big Lottery’s Power to Change Initiative, the firm has already signed up a number of businesses as its first customers and is now urging construction companies, distribution specialists and manufacturers in the Black Country and Shropshire to save money and boost their social responsibility by signing up to its collection service.

Useable wood that could end up in a skip, from pallets and scaffolding boards to off cuts and floorboards, is wanted and, for a minimum fee, will be brought back to the organisation’s site.

“I’ve been following the progress of Wood Saints for some time and am genuinely delighted to officially open it today…it’s a fantastic enterprise and one that resonates with me, as it’s helping disadvantaged people by giving them new skills,” explained Jay Blades, who has appeared on ‘This Morning’ and now presents ‘Money for Nothing’ and ‘The Repair Shop’.

“They’ve taken a derelict facility and turned into a hub of creativity that will be used to repurpose wood, create exciting new products and, in the long term, offer incubation space for local crafts businesses. I can’t wait to see it take off.

He added: “To give it a further boost I’ve promised to work alongside the team to see if they can help me develop some of my own products here.” Wood Saints, which is the latest venture from All Saints Action Network (ASAN), has taken a 10,000 sq ft empty industrial unit and spent six months transforming it into a dedicated wood depot that features a wood storage area, workshop and a retail outlet that will stock ironmongery and products made out of the re-used material.

“This is an innovative way of saving valuable resources whilst creating employment and training opportunities for local people in the All Saints community,” explained Iftikar Karim, Wood Saints Recycling Manager.

“We offer a competitive wood collection service for construction sites, businesses and householders. All the wood will be sorted at our Dixon Street depot where volunteers can get involved in activities, such as collecting wood with our drivers, preparing timber for sale, working in our shop or making products and furniture in our wood workshop.”

He continued: “People of all ages and backgrounds can volunteer. We will give them training and also pay for them to take their CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card if necessary. It could potentially be the first step on the ladder back into employment.

“We are also looking for local businesses to get behind us. This could be taking advantage of our wood collection service, donating materials, fundraising, mentoring or some employee volunteering projects.”

Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East and Councillors Sandra Samuels and Zee Russell have also visited and pledged their support to Wood Saints, with Wolverhampton City Council exploring ways where it can engage with the social enterprise by making introductions to the construction companies in its supply chain.

“I was thrilled to visit the site on Friday and welcome this fantastic new enterprise in to my constituency. I wish ASAN every success with this new venture and I look forward to seeing how the project develops over the coming months,” added Pat McFadden.

Mick Moreton, Recycling Supervisor at Wood Saints, concluded: “We work on so many fronts…we are making an environmental difference, we are making a social difference and we will hopefully be making a financial difference to all the firms that plan to use us.”

He concluded: “All the profits we make will be reinvested into making All Saints a better place to live and work.”

Drogheda, Boyne Valley has been announced as the location for the world famous Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2018.

Sandwiched between Dublin and the Northern Irish border the Boyne Valley is expected to become one of must visit regions in 2018 thanks to Ireland's biggest cultural event the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann taking place in Drogheda.

From the 12th to 19th August 2018 the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will attract hundreds of artists to the country's largest family festival who will perform to an expected audience of 400,000. The event is the world's largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance.

Boyne Valley was once Ireland's ancient capital, home to some of they country's most mythical landscapes including a collection of UNSECO world heritage sites dating back 5,000 years. It is also one of Ireland's most accessible destinations only 20 minutes from Dublin International Airport.

The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will showcase Ireland's rich cultural history and to allow visitors to explore Boyne Valley's unique history, culture and beauty the Discover Boyne Valley tourist board have created a series of routes and tourist offerings.

Sister Act, the classic 1992 musical comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg, is the latest film to receive the ‘live cinema’ treatment with the ‘Sister Act Live Choir’, UK Tour presented by Amacoast Cinema. Film fans have been clamouring for pop-ups and live cinema experiences in recent years, as audiences look for new, innovative ways to enjoy the films they know and films that will turn into instant classics. Sister Act fans from across the UK will be immersed in a fresh new cinematic, musical experience. Recently some of the iconic original cast members reunited for an incredible choir performance to celebrate the film’s 25th year anniversary and it’s fitting that the tour kicks off in the celebratory year.

Sister Act Live Choir will boast a full-piece choir and band, as they accompany the onscreen nuns with live performances of songs from the film’s original soundtrack. “We are delighted to be touring this powerful and uplifting live cinema experience” says founder, Dele Aro. The show has had two successful, sold out runs in London in Autumn 2016 and April 2017. Dele added “We were delighted to see the shows connect such a large diverse group of people, to share in a unique experience and create new memories around a much-loved film”.

Sister Act tells the hilarious story of Vegas lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier (played by Whoopi Goldberg), who after witnessing a murder at the hands of her boyfriend has to enter witness protection to avoid a similar fate. She turns to the one place that she hopes he will never look - a Convent! Disguised as a nun Deloris woefully tries to adopt her new lifestyle and after several false starts, she finally finds her voice at the heart of the church choir.

“Whether you’re a Sister Act fan or not, the soundtrack is amazing and the nuns sing with so much soul. I Will Follow Him is my favourite song, it has what I call the ‘feels’…” says show Choir Director, Lovedale Harrison. Sister Act Live Choir includes live performances of original film soundtrack favourites such as ‘Hail Holy Queen’, ‘My Guy (My God)’ and ‘I Will Follow Him’. Creative Director Kandi Aro adds, “There’s nothing quite like live entertainment. Adding this element to Sister Act really does provide a novel and memorable way to experience this cult film”.

Sister Act Live Choir will feature the Uplifted Voices choir for the show, who have featured on BBC Gospel Proms, and provided backing choirs for the live shows on ITV’s The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent, and The X Factor shows. One of the lead signers from Uplifted Voices’ is the super talented Diamantina, who was born in Germany of Kosovan parents. From refugee to rising star, Diamantina has found her strength and confidence in music and performance, and Sister Act Live Choir has enabled her to share her talents with a much wider audience. She says, “We’re reliving Sister Act in an energetic way I’ve never seen done before.” There will also be special guest performances from Britain’s Got Talent Semi-finalist’s ‘Gospel Singers Incognito’ (GSI) and Byron Gold’s ‘Gold Vocal Collective (GVC).

Sister Act Live Choir will be an experience which unites and electrifies the audience while bringing a classic to life across the UK and Ireland!

Birmingham Bach Choir and the Archbishop of Birmingham celebrate the work of two Elizabethan greats for The Great Service on the 24 March 2018, St Chad's Cathedral, B’ham.

The concert presents composer William Byrd's The Great Service and the motet Sing Joyfully alongside a selection of Metaphysical Poet John Donne's enduring (and much quoted) Holy Sonnets.

William Byrd (1539/40-1623) was an Elizabethan trailblazer, taking English music to newfound heights. Believed to have been written at the turn of the 16th/17th century, his ‘Great’ Service earned its nickname due to its monumental scale and ambition. Composed by a (secret) Roman Catholic for a Protestant Queen, in a time of severe religious persecution, a complete performance of The Great Service is a rarity.

Though born a Roman Catholic, John Donne (1572-1631) reluctantly joined the Anglican Church, eventually becoming Royal Chaplain to James I. An accomplished poet now revered, his Holy Sonnets are thought to have been written around 1610, though were not published until after his death. Compelling, personal, passionate, powerful, and with an innovative use of imagery and rhythm, the sonnets examine themes of divine love, doubt, sin, grace, redemption.

Reading John Donne’s sonnets is Archbishop Bernard Longley. One of the UK’s most senior Catholic clergy, he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be Archbishop of Birmingham in 2009. A musician himself, he studied at The Northern College of Music as a singer and was also a student at New College Oxford before entering the priesthood.

Birmingham Bach Choir Chair Sarah Platt, said: "We're delighted to present an all too rare performance of one of Byrd's greatest works - in terms of scope and ambition, it's right up there with Bach’s B Minor Mass or Wagner’s operas! Donne's sonnets have also lost none of their power over the centuries, and we're very honoured to be joined by Archbishop Longley for this very special concert, in one of Birmingham’s most stunning buildings."


Friday night at the Singapore International Jazz Festival (SING JAZZ) 2018 is set to be a bumper start for the weekend musical marathon with four additional acts announced to perform alongside their already stellar line-up at the iconic Marina Bay Sands. Visionary French artist Sebastian Tellier and Brazilian guitar legend, Paulinho Garcia will grace The Main Stage on Friday evening, whilst internationally renowned DJs Sasha and Ferry Corsten will elevate the after-party activities at The Late Show.

Friday 6 April – The Main Stage

One of the first handful of acts kicking off the festival is Sebastien Tellier considered one of the most significant French artists of the last decade. He is the 2000s' romantic dandy, a real icon proved by his musical genius though enigmatic nonchalant style and his sense of fun. Anyone who has seen him in action will know that his live performances are truly legendary – bizarre and beautiful in equal measure. As always with Sebastien, fans can expect the unexpected.

Returning to Singapore is fan-favourite, Paulinho Garcio a Brazilian Guitarist and vocalist, described as “the epitome of the solitary troubadour… [whose] languid chords and cleanly plucked lines illuminate the complicated rhythms with the cool clarity of moonlight.”

Friday 6 April – The Late Show

Grammy Award nominee, four-time International Dance Music Award winner and four-time DJ Mag award winner, the legendary SASHA is a man who needs no introduction. Coming to Singapore for the first time, the Welsh producer will hit our shores off the back of his long-awaited return to Coachella in 2017 and his extensive BBC Radio 1 support.

The DJ Mag USA cover star will set Friday night alight at The Late Show, with his uncanny ability to read people, and tapping into that human experience to take them on an incredible musical journey. Fans can expect the party to be in full swing with Sasha behind the decks, giving us an insight into his world-renowned 'Last Night on Earth' parties.

Another addition to The Late Show includes the mercurial Ferry Corsten, gracing us with a deftly curated trance and progressive house DJ set that is guaranteed to come with a wow factor.

The Dutch DJ's illustrious career is exemplified by a passion for music that began as a hobby and spiralled into a full-blown profession. Today, as it was in the beginning, Corsten's skills lie in his ability to coax the maximum emotional impact from electronic dance music of all genres, not just trance, but also progressive-house and electro. He remains and has always been ahead-of-his time, making music that becomes a template for others to follow.


An exciting addition to 2018 is the creation of a Festival Village situated at the Event Square on the Ebenex Stage by the Marina Bay waterfront. The fringe event will be used as a platform to showcase 16 local and regional bands, and will run from Wednesday 4 April to Sunday 8 April from 2.00pm to 10.30pm.

Not only can the general public catch these live performances free of charge each day, but food and beverage will also be available in the casual and fun setting, offering a variety of music styles across all four days:

  • Wednesday - Swing Jazz Night
  • Thursday - Latin Fiesta
  • Friday - Regional Jazz Stars
  • Saturday – Jazz / Soul / Funk / R&B
  • Sunday – Jazz / Soul / Funk / Blues

Following the success of the highly acclaimed “Frozen Planet in Concert” that was produced in partnership with BBC Earth, Holland America Line is debuting “Planet Earth II in Concert” on nearly all ships in the fleet. Combining live music with a backdrop of breathtaking footage from the new, award-winning BBC Earth television series “Planet Earth II,” the exclusive show immerses guests in the most spectacular landscapes and habitats on Earth, bringing them eye-to-eye with the animals on screen.

“Planet Earth II in Concert” is presented through Holland America Line’s partnership with BBC Earth, where world-class education and entertainment are brought onboard through behind-the-scenes films and live multimedia shows — in addition to special feature cruises with masterclass presentations from the television teams that work behind scenes on the programs.

“Our partnership with BBC Earth has been an extraordinary journey to all corners of the globe, and we can’t wait to take our guests into the world of ‘Planet Earth II’ with this stunning, new live concert,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “‘Frozen Planet in Concert’ has been one of our most popular shows, and ‘Planet Earth II’ will be the perfect encore. No one shows the spectacle of nature like BBC Earth.”

During “Planet Earth II in Concert,” guests rub shoulders with acrobatic primates in the jungles of Madagascar, race alongside hunting lions in the remote sandy deserts of Namibia, face stormy seas of the Great Southern Ocean with a family of penguins and tap their toes along with dancing grizzly bears — all accompanied by a live orchestra that plays the main theme music by Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer and the original music score by Jacob Shea and Jasha Klebe for Bleeding Fingers Music.

“Planet Earth II in Concert” is rolling out across Eurodam, Koningsdam, Maasdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Oosterdam, Rotterdam, Veendam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam, and will be on board all of those ships by the end of April 2018. Alaska-bound ships will revert to showing “Alaska in Concert,” developed last season with exclusive Alaska wildlife footage, for the duration of the season. For Holland America Line’s 70th anniversary season in Alaska in 2017, BBC Earth launched the “Alaska in Concert” production that combined live music set against backdrop footage from the BBC Earth television series “Wild Alaska,” where audiences experience the cycle of four seasons and see this place is as unforgiving as it is beautiful.

In addition to “Planet Earth II in Concert” and “Alaska in Concert,” theater screenings of BBC Earth programs are featured on each sailing, and 45- to 60-minute “Inside Earth” films go behind the scenes and explore the making of BBC Earth content. “Frozen Planet in Concert” will continue to show on longer voyages as a second BBC Earth performance for guests.

The opera tells the terrifying tale of Macbeth, a warrior who, after hearing a coven of witches prophesy that he will become King of Scotland, is driven by ambition and encouraged by his wife to make the prophecy reality. Soon the murderous couple become possessed by a paranoia that drives them to further crimes and ultimately leads to their downfall.

Verdi’s passion for Shakespeare’s plays began with Macbeth (1847, his tenth opera), which he described as ‘one of the greatest creations of man’. It was his first great Shakespearean adaptation; he would create two more, Otello and Falstaff, in his final years. The Royal Opera’s production uses Verdi’s 1865 revision of the opera for Paris, which includes Lady Macbeth’s thrilling aria ‘La luce langue’.

Directed by the award-winning Phyllida Lloyd, who made her debut at the Royal Opera House in 2002 with Macbeth, the production captures the sadness of the Macbeths, in particular the childlessness that may be a motivating force behind their terrible deeds.

Antonio Pappano conducts a cast led by Serbian baritone Željko Lu?i? as Macbeth, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth (one of her signature roles) and Italian bass-baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Banquo.

The performance lasts three hours and 20 minutes and includes one interval, which will feature extensive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and creative team.

Macbeth will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.

The Royal Opera House presents a live cinema screening of Verdi’s Macbeth, inspired by Shakespeare’s great tragedy of the same name, on Wednesday 4 April at 7.15pm.

An encore screening will take place on Sunday 8 April 2018 at 2pm.

Birmingham Hippodrome bringing back its free annual festival celebrating all things Hip-Hop from Wed 9 – Sun 13 May 2018. The weekend’s activities include a range of exhilarating outdoor performances, pop-up dance events, interactive talks and live graffiti art alongside an explosive programme of high-energy workshops.

In anticipation of the festival, there will be a launch event at The Lighthouse Young People’s Centre in March, date to be confirmed, giving you a taste of what’s to come. The launch and dance competition will include free workshops in Breakin’, Poppin’, Graffiti, DJing and Rap/Spoken Word. Keen dancers can sign up for the competition here:*.

Now in its third year, B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival will take place in the Southside streets and Birmingham Hippodrome, attracting a wide audience of Hip-Hop fans and novices alike from around the world. The popular festival will feature appearances from the best national and international artists plus the city’s finest local talents. Headline acts already confirmed include Red Bull BC Champion, Menno Van Gorp and arguably one of the best Poppers in the world Green Tek, with many more to be announced.

As well as the usual programme of events, new to this year’s festival, will be a Hip-Hop game show where people can test their Hip-Hop knowledge and compete with friends. There will also be opportunities for budding creatives to learn from the professionals with artist development labs and artist talks and master classes with Hip-Hop pioneers such as Henry Link.

B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival has inspired Hip-Hop themed programmes at Birmingham Hippodrome, such as AeroBreaks, a dance collective of young people from local schools, funded by Sport England. In collaboration with Break Mission and The Lighthouse Young People’s Centre, AeroBreaks, a Birmingham Hippodrome Project, offers free break dance classes where young people can explore their interest in Hip-Hop culture with professional artists. Local schools involved with the project include Holte School, Holy Trinity Catholic School and Four Dwellings Academy.

This is a great opportunity for young people to build their confidence on and off the stage. Previous participants have gone onto to perform in professional productions and continue to work with the theatre.

Graham Callister, Associate Director at Birmingham Hippodrome, commented: “We are delighted to once again bring Southside to life through B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival. Working with some amazing national and international artists, performers and partners, bringing together the Hip-Hop community for a celebration of music, dance and spoken word.”

Birmingham Hippodrome partners with festival directors Break Mission, Juice Aleem, Mickael Riviére and to produce B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival. The event is supported through funding from Arts Council England, Southside BID and The Arcadian, and sponsored by POSCA.

Artificial intelligence and automation are playing a growing role in the recruitment process, with many agencies and businesses relying more and more heavily upon robotic decision makers rather than face-to-face human interaction when selecting candidates.

Leading and award-winning recruiters Encore Personnel, which employs 11 people at its office on Lower Temple Street in the city centre, are taking a stand on the issue, as Operations Director Pete Taylor explains.

He said: “We live in an age where innovative technology is saving us money and time and I am certainly not against the efficiencies and developments that this brings. However, as a people-focused industry which deals with the livelihoods of human beings, we need to stop and think about the impact that AI and robotic recruitment is having and the implications for future generations.

“At Encore we do use job boards for advertising our roles and it is true that throughout much of that process, candidates may not speak to a person. This can be off putting to some people, but the reality is that for blue collar roles – which is the majority job type we recruit for – it is the most efficient and effective means of sifting through CVs and applications. But that doesn’t mean the process has to be impersonal.

“We endeavour to respond to all applicants following their submission, whether they are successful or not. It is alarming to hear that some candidates are experiencing automated rejections or no feedback whatsoever, having gone through a system where they haven’t spoken to a person at all. I fear a bleak and faceless future landscape for recruitment, unless we, as ethical recruiters, stop and think about the impact this system will have.

“We hear a lot of noise about Millennials and how they have lost the ability to communicate in person. From a recruitment perspective this is ironic, as the system that is evolving now will only work to feed this problem. We want young people to think outside the box, to demonstrate personality and flair and to challenge the status quo – these young people are the leaders of the future and we need to nurture them from their first job application, not discourage them with automated rejections.

“In an era of evermore sophisticated technology, the recruitment sector needs to remember its core purpose – pairing the right person with the right employer. Computers will never be able to do this as effectively as a human being and we must remember and protect the value of face-to-face interaction for as long as we can.”

The National Young Writers’ Awards is set to return with a bang as world renowned best-selling children’s author David Walliams has been named judge for 2018!  The competition, organised by tuition provider, Explore Learning which has a centre in Harborne has been running for ten years and has inspired hundreds of thousands of children across the UK to put pen to paper and give writing a try.

The theme for this year is ‘Heroes’ where children are tasked with writing a 500 word story all about their hero, whether that be their parent, a policeman or an idol they aspire to be like - Explore Learning cannot wait to hear some of the very best in heroic tales!

David Walliams has revolutionised reading for children and has become one of the most influential children’s writers today. Since the publication of his ground-breaking first novel, The Boy in the Dress (2008), Walliams has seen unprecedented growth. With the publication of ten novels, three short stories and six picture books, his global sales now exceed 23 million copies, and his books have been translated into fifty-three languages.

The winner will be surprised at a school assembly by David who will announce the National Young Writer of the Year and present them with a trophy, a trip to Disneyland Paris for their family and £500 of books for their school!  Every child that enters will receive a certificate to celebrate their story, along with personalised feedback from one of Explore Learning’s inspirational tutors.

David Walliams says: “It is a real privilege to be named judge for this year’s National Young Writers’ Awards and I am so looking forward to reading what the brilliant brains of our country’s children come up with. To write is such a wonderful, creative outlet for people of all ages and competitions just like this one are a fantastic way of encouraging kids across the UK to take the leap and release their inner authors!”

The competition will run from Monday 5th March until Sunday 29th April and is open to all children aged 4-14 anywhere in the UK – from enthusiastic young writers to those who feel less confident.

Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning says: “We are extremely proud to organise the longest running writing competition for children and over the past 10 years the National Young Writers’ Awards have encouraged children in their thousands to release their creativity in abundance.  We can’t wait to read what children put together along this year’s theme of heroes – whether that’s a hero with superpowers or an everyday hero like a parent, a firefighter, paramedic or teacher.

“We are beyond excited to have David Walliams as our judge for the 2018 competition and we know that he will help to inspire even more children to get writing for the chance to meet their idol - as well as that fantastic trip to Disneyland Paris and the wonderful accolade of being named National Young Writer of the Year!”

The top 10 entries will also receive £250 worth of books for their schools from Letts Revision, plus a large print of the opening line of their story by QuirkyLime. Each of the regional winners will also win £50 worth of books for themselves.

It’s very easy to enter.  Children are invited to pick up an entry form from their local Explore Learning centre which can be found at Explore Learning 59 High Street Harborne  Birmingham  B17 9NS and then simply return the completed entry to them before Sunday 29th April. Or if children prefer, they can type their story and enter online at Don’t forget to include your contact information so they can get in touch if your child wins!