Colors: Red Color

Following huge public demand, 10,000 extra tickets have been released for Elf - A Christmas Spectacular starring music legend David Essex and Love Actually star Martine McCutcheon. These tickets are on sale now and include all performances at Birmingham’s Genting Arena from 20 -24 December 2018.

Elf has become the fastest selling Christmas show this year and it is still only May! Over 30,000 tickets have been snapped up in the first three weeks of being on sale, prompting show producers to add extra tickets for Birmingham’s Genting Arena alongside the Motorpoint Arenas in Nottingham and Cardiff. Elf is one of the few shows offering discounted tickets for children (up to age 16) with £10 off most price bands.

The gigantic arena show features incredible special effects including a giant sleigh flying across the arena, an indoor snow blizzard, an iceberg journey and an amazing cast of 100 performers including up to 70 children from local Pauline Quirke Academies for each show. The show will be performed across a 70-foot wide stage and a 60-foot long thrust stage, with some scenes taking place around and above the audience. The staging will be enhanced with giant screens, showing both computer graphic backdrops and live action close-ups.

Hitting the road as Buddy the Elf’s father, David Essex said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people getting excited and tickets flying out for this huge tour when we’ve still got over six months to go! I really can’t wait to take to the stage with this brilliant Christmas story.”

Portraying Buddy’s girlfriend Jovie, Martine McCutcheon said: “It’s so exciting seeing extra tickets and shows being added to the Elf tour, Christmas really can’t come soon enough for me!”

The original stage version of the show played to record breaking audiences in 2015/2016 at London’s Dominion Theatre and firmly established this heart-warming tale of Buddy the Elf leaving Santa at the North Pole to seek his real father in New York as a Christmas classic.  This new Christmas Spectacular production will feature a book written by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers and Hairspray) and an original score of great new songs.

The LATA Media Awards recognise innovation and excellence across the British travel media landscape with a specific focus on Latin America.

Celebrating and rewarding inspiring and creative Latin America stories and photography, the winners of the 15th edition of the LATA Media Awards were selected from over 150 entries by a strong judging panel composed of key figures from the Latin American travel industry.

The 2018 judging panel included Hilary Bradt, founder of Bradt Travel Guides; Baroness Hooper, lawyer and honorary president of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for Latin America; Hugh Thomson, leading author and film-maker; Martin Morales, founder of the restaurant group Ceviche and award-winning Peruvian chef; Colin Stewart, chairman of LATA and the UK and Ireland director at Air Europa; and Andy Skillen, multi-award winning international wildlife photographer and founder of Fauna Vista.

The winners were revealed at an event that took place at the RSA House in London on 22 May, which was attended by key members of the Latin American travel industry, the diplomatic community and some of the UK's most prolific travel writers and photographers.

Winners and runners-up are detailed below:

Best Online Blog Feature of the Year Award 

Winner: Abigail King, 'Pre-Columbian art in Ecuador and the surprising question it asks', Inside the Travel Lab Runner-up: Shafik Meghji, 'Best things to do in Ecuador', Highly commended for photography: Neil Hennessy Vass, 'Central America: A New Revolution',

Best Self-Published Feature of the Year Award

Winner: Anna McNuff, 'Through Patagonia on Wheels', Swoop Runner-up: Jennifer Richt, 'Belize in it: An Example of Ecotourism', Jacada Travel

Best Trade Publication Feature of the Year Award

Winner: Ben Lerwill, 'Andes to Amazon', Selling Travel Runner-up: Meera Dattani, 'Belize the Hype'. Travel Weekly

Best Consumer Online Feature of the Year Award 

Winner: Tamara Hinson, 'Quito: Why Ecuador's capital is known for its evolving music scene', Independent Online Runner-up: Sarah Gilbert, 'Exploring Che Guevara's Bolivian shrine 50 years after his death', Independent Online

Best Photography of the Year Award

Winner: Jonathan Gregson, 'Lago Pehoe, Torres Del Paine', Lonely Planet Runner-up: Alex Robinson, 'Mystic River', Wanderlust

Best Consumer Newspaper Feature of the Year Award

Winner: Mike Unwin, 'Living at one with the Creatures of the Canopy', The Sunday Telegraph Runner-up: Andrew Purvis, 'My David Attenborough moment in the jungle', The Sunday Telegraph

Consumer Magazine Feature of the Year Award

Winner: Adrian Phillips, 'A wild rolling beast of a route', National Geographic Traveller Runner-up: Chris Moss, 'Shape Shifter', Conde Nast Traveller

Diljit Dosanjh, one of the leading artists in the Punjabi music industry, has been confirmed as the biggest selling Indian artist to date for a single concert at Arena Birmingham.

The singer kicked off his Con.Fi.Dent.Tial UK tour this evening at the city centre venue, to a sell-out audience of nearly 9,000.  His return to Birmingham comes after a two-year hiatus whilst writing the album.

The show, promoted by UK Ticket Office Ltd, also included the largest stage for an Indian artist to ever be constructed within Arena Birmingham, with a 22-metre stage.

Ben Sharman, Venue Sales Manager, said: “This has been an impressive production, not only in design but also in sales figures.  To be selling out shows like this highlights Diljit Dosanjh’s wide international reach and fan base in the West Midlands, and it’s been a pleasure to open his UK tour.

“Our world class facilities and central location in the heart of the UK makes us a core destination on the touring circuit.  This teamed with the young and culturally diverse population we have in the West Midlands has been a real recipe for success.”

Famous Studios’ Kaka Singh Mohanwalia - UK and European Manager for Diljit Dosanjh added: “We are delighted to confirm that Diljit has the record as the biggest selling Indian artist here in Birmingham.  This is a huge achievement and after selling out his 2016 tour, he has now reached another milestone in his career.”

The Con.Fi.Den.Tial tour brought an outstanding display of Diljit’s finest work, include High-End, Big Scene and Future, and will now continue onto further stops in London and Leeds.

Efteling – the fairytale theme park in the south of Holland – has announced details of this year's Summer Festival, or Negen Pleinen Festijn, taking place every Friday and Saturday in July and August.

Allowing families in the park to make the most of long summer days and warm evenings, Efteling will stay open until 11pm on Summer Festival days, launching 6 July. All attractions are open as usual, with the only difference being that visitors will experience them under fairylights, while special events and live entertainment activities take place in nine of Efteling's nine squares.

The Summer Festival at Efteling features fairy-tale performances, pop-up stalls offering tasty summer delicacies and spectacular live musical entertainment throughout the day and into the evening. During the afternoons, a bandstand with an orchestra will perform at restaurant Het Witte Paard, while visitors can cool down with a fresh smoothie at pop-up street stalls or decorate their own ice cream.  At 6pm, a colourful procession of entertainers takes place, winding through the park and into the nine squares.

During the summer evenings, Efteling's nine squares feature different live entertainment creating a festival-like atmosphere, from a sing-a-long with Efteling residents Jokie & Jet at the Carnaval Festival square to oriental magic shows in Fata Morgana square.

On the Vliegende Hollander square Pientere Pianist will play Efteling melodies and acapella band Zang & Gelukkig will sing well-known hits while guests can enjoy grilled burgers, fish or vegetable skewers from the BBQ.

On the Ton van de Ven square, the legend of Raveleijn comes to life with a sword fighting and Rider Thomas acting as a host.

There will be a proper fiesta vibe at Piraña square with South American performers and stalls selling nachos, and in Herauten square the youngest guests can meet their favourite Fairytale Forest residents. Elsewhere, there will also be opportunities to learn the bows and steps of the Symbolica Court Dance or eat bratwurst at the annual Jürgen Freilich Family Feast.

On other days in July and August, the park stays open until 8pm, allowing visitors plenty of time to discover the wonder of Efteling, relax in the park's beautiful grounds and take an extra ride on their favourite roller coasters, such as the recently renovated Python. With the longer summer days, visitors also have more opportunities to discover the secret rooms in the Palace of Fantasy at Efteling's newest attraction Symbolica celebrating its one-year anniversary in June, wander leisurely through the Fairytale Forest, enjoy more park shows such as Raveleijn or Sprookjesboom, or cool down with an extra ride on the white-water ride Piraña. Watershow Aquanura – the largest of its kind in Europe - is a great way to round off the day against a superb night sky.

After a long day in the park, the Efteling Hotel, Holiday Village Efteling Loonsche Land, with a hotel, holiday houses and themed rooms, and Holiday Village Efteling Bosrijk with luxury holiday homes and apartments, are just a short walk from the park entrance.

The biggest vegan festival in Yorkshire returns to Leeds Town Hall on 16th and 17th June with a wide variety of vegan food, amazing stalls, and great live music and entertainment. This popular bi-annual event includes a feast of mouth wateringly delicious food lined up, over 150 fantastic stalls, world food caterers, exciting cookery demos, inspirational talks, interactive workshops, yoga and children's activities running throughout the day.

The Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival includes a varied and exciting array of plant-based hot and cold dishes, including Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, Greek, Hotdogs, Burgers, Street Food, Raw Food and Gourmet Food! There will also be a huge range of pasties, cakes, chocolates, cookies, doughnuts, sandwiches and salads to take away as well as alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, juices, smoothies, tea and coffee. Plus there are lots of exciting foods and other products not available in the shops.

On top of this, there will be a great selection of non food stalls, selling a wide variety of items including fashion, footwear, jewellery, beauty and skincare products, candles, crafts, clothing, footwear, homeware, gifts and charity merchandise.

And as well as stalls to look round, there will also be plenty of free food samples to try, live music, inspirational talks, live cookery demonstrations, workshops and children's activities.

The Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival celebrates veganism, and educates that veganism is healthy, affordable and fun. It is a 100% volunteer-run event and all proceeds go to animal welfare charities such as Miracle's Mission that helps to rescue, rehabilitate, neuter and re-home stray and vulnerable animals.

Festival Organiser Victoria Bryceson says, “With the vegan lifestyle really starting to go mainstream there's a massive demand for vegan-friendly events. Our festival is set to be a fantastic week-end out whether you're vegetarian, vegan or simply vegan-curious. The idea behind the festival is to educate and inform everyone about the vegan lifestyle and offer support to anybody who would like it.”

Going vegan has transformed Victoria's life; “I've never felt happier and healthier,” she says. She started the festival with the aim of promoting animal welfare and how to live a more ethical and healthy lifestyle. “There will be several animal welfare charity stalls raising awareness of their causes. For anybody who would like to get involved with volunteering this is an ideal place to talk to lots of different charities and gather information, and all the stall holders are happy to talk to people and answer any questions.”

The festival is run in partnership with animal welfare charities including Miracle's Mission. “It's all about trying new things and opening people's eyes to new possibilities,” continues Victoria. “Cutting out meat and dairy from your diet is easier than you might think and many people are increasingly looking for alternatives as they want to live more healthily and ethically. They want to find out more about the new innovative foods and recipes now available and want to do it affordably. Our festival will educate people on how to do all of this. Join us for a fantastic day full of yummy vegan food, ethical shopping, live entertainment and lots of fun!”

And the festival also helps local homeless people, whilst helping reduce food waste at the same time. Stall holders are asked to donate any surplus food at the end of the festival, and a group of volunteers distributes it to homeless people after the event, providing a hot meal as well as cold dishes.

See Birmingham Royal Ballet in one of its most adventurous programmes of work, exploring all that connects us and all that pulls us apart. The Polarity and Proximity mixed programme features two modern classics and a must-see premiere of new work, all of which demand extreme physical and emotional commitment from the Company’s world-class dancers.

Created in 2014 by Alexander Whitley for the Birmingham International Dance Festival, Kin. is an athletic, abstract piece danced to a pulsing, hypnotic score by Phil Kline. A former Birmingham Royal Ballet dancer, Whitley is a leading figure of the UK contemporary dance industry, having worked with companies including Rambert, Michael Clark Dance Company, Ballet Boyz and Candoco. Kin. celebrates the raw kinetics of dance, the virtuosity of ballet technique and the potential for movement to bring us together in different ways.

Embrace, choreographed by Worcestershire-born George Williamson to a specially commissioned score from Sarah Kirkland Snider with brand new designs from Madeleine Girling, premieres at Birmingham Hippodrome as part of the Ballet Now talent development programme. This highly personal journey explores the idea of sexuality and individual identity, and how these concepts can come into conflict with societal expectations. At its heart, Embrace is about letting go of who we are expected to be and embracing who we are.

The programme concludes with iconic American choreographer Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room. Quick-witted and even quicker footed, dancers in sneakers and striking red pointe shoes dominate the stage with energy, flair and finesse. From gravity defying lifts to fiendishly fast pointe work, the dancers push their bodies to the absolute physical limit in forty thrilling, explosive minutes. As The Guardian commented, “if your pulse isn’t racing, check you have one.”

The Polarity and Proximity mixed programme is at Birmingham Hippodrome, as part of the Birmingham International Dance Festival, 20-23 June.

KAABOO has announced the 2019 lineup for its newest destination event, a multi-sensory experience in the Cayman Islands. KAABOO Cayman, set to take place February 15 + 16, 2019, will welcome internationally renowned EDM-pop duo The Chainsmokers and British new wave idols Duran Duran as headliners for its inaugural event overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Russian-German producer and DJ ZEDD, Pop-RnB platinum-selling artist Jason Derulo, Canadian super-star Bryan Adams and American rock band Counting Crows, join a multi-generational lineup including Flo Rida, Blondie, +Live+, Maren Morris, Sean Paul, Shaggy, Salt-N-Pepa ft. DJ Spinderella, Blues Traveller, Los Lobos, and many more. Comic canons Wanda Sykes, David Spade, Jenny Slate, Darrell Hammond and more will headline KAABOO's HUMOR ME stage. A confirmed listing of KAABOO Cayman's music and comedy line-up is below.

“We are thrilled to reveal our inaugural line-up for KAABOO Cayman,” says KAABOO's Chief Brand Officer, Jason Felts. “This signature line-up of multi-generational artists was thoughtfully curated to include a little something for everyone. As we extend our brand to paradise, KAABOO Cayman promises a weekend experience designed for the enjoyment of both locals and tourists alike.”

Set on the shores of the world famous Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, KAABOO Cayman will take place amidst a tropical climate where guests will enjoy a backdrop of crystal blue water and white sand beaches for an upscale, island getaway. With direct flights from London, KAABOO Cayman mirrors its San Diego counterpart, KAABOO Del Mar, in its plans to deliver an oasis providing the full spectrum of entertainment, aesthetics, and relaxation, imbibing the “Five Senses Under the Sun” brand motto.

“We are excited to welcome KAABOO to the Cayman Islands for its first international festival for both locals and visitors to enjoy,” said Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, Minister of Tourism for the Cayman Islands. “The Cayman Islands' ease of accessibility to and from the U.S., coupled with our elite infrastructure and plenty of desirable lodging and culinary options, offers KAABOO the ideal destination for a unique Caribbean experience.”

In addition to bucket list multi-generational music headliners and comedians, all guests can expect mouth watering culinary delicacies at PALATE; stunning live murals and exhibits in ARTWORK; massages, hot shaves, and spa services in INDULGENCES; and beach vibes and ocean access at the BASK Day/Night Club adjacent to Seven Mile Beach (18+).

The work of American composer, pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington will be placed under the spotlight at a three-day conference taking place in Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire this month.

Held between Friday 25 and Sunday 27 May, the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference will celebrate the life, music and legacy of the pivotal figure – often credited as the artist who brought jazz in to the mainstream around the world.

Alongside themed panels of speakers, including Dr Harvey G Cohen (King's College London) and Dr Katherine Williams (Plymouth University), the event will showcase four concerts by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Ellington Orchestra, present numerous small group jam sessions and host the AGM of The Duke Ellington Society UK.

Conference co-organiser, Jeremy Price, Head of Jazz and Artistic Director of Eastside Jazz Club, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said:

“Duke Ellington in many respects set out the blue print for jazz composition and is still the model band leader to anyone wanting to lead diverse creative talents in their own ensemble.

“He is the boss you would love to be and the boss you would love to have; enabling creativity of all around him through benevolent trust and shining example. These are just some of the reasons why he is so deserving of much scholarly attention and why academics and aficionados alike keep returning to this rich seam of fascinating jazz activity for their inspiration.

“This conference will also stand out for integrating abundant live performances, with our Ellington Orchestra doing several shows in our very own Eastside Jazz Club.”

Born Edward Kennedy Ellington in April 1899 in Washington D.C., he was nicknamed ‘Duke’ by a boyhood friend, and the moniker stuck. Self-taught at the piano, his influences were wide and varied – from religion to travel, and Shakespeare to Degas – and, as result, he created works in almost every conceivable medium, including solo songs, orchestral suites, church music and a full-length ballet.

Ellington and his orchestra performed all over the world, including extensively in Europe and entertaining audiences in UK cities such as Birmingham, Coventry and Cambridge.

The conference has been co-organised by the Jazz Studies research cluster at Birmingham City University, which is led by Professors Nicholas Gebhardt and Tony Whyton, and Dr Nicolas Pillai.

Although only five years old, the cluster boasts more than 40 members, including 10 jazz researchers from across Birmingham School of Media and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, eight doctoral students and leaders of the regional jazz community, as well as additional academic partners at University of Warwick, University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and University of Music and the Performing Arts Graz (Austria).

Furthermore, the University’s new £57 million Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is home to Eastside Jazz Club, the first permanent jazz space in any UK conservatoire. In 2017, the Conservatoire launched its big band Ellington Orchestra, who are a regular fixture in the club.

Co-organiser, Dr Nicolas Pillai, Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University, said:

“This conference is a milestone for Birmingham City University in many ways. Not only is it the first academic jazz conference to be hosted in the fabulous new Conservatoire building but it has also been a wonderful opportunity for us to build collaborative links with The Duke Ellington Society UK.

“We are very lucky in Birmingham not only to have the hugely respected Jazz Department within the Conservatoire, led by Jeremy Price, but also a world-leading team of jazz researchers based in Birmingham School of Media. Events like this allow us to create exciting new connections between practice and research.

“I am looking forward to panels which will give us new insights into not just Ellington the man, but also models of collaborative creativity within his orchestra which have larger socio-cultural implications for us today. Ellington’s music was ultimately about connection and this conference will create a space for international scholars from various disciplines to discuss not just the historical but also the relevance of Ellington in the 21st century.”

Birmingham Royal Ballet says farewell to six dancers at the end of the 2017/18 season, including principals Nao Sakuma, Chi Cao and Jenna Roberts who give their final performances in June 2018 following long successful careers.

After joining the Company together in 1995, Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao have led Birmingham Royal Ballet in the classical repertoire for 23 years. Both renowned for their refined, virtuoso technique and sensitive dramatic interpretations, the pair have enjoyed a beautifully matched partnership. Together, they have produced outstanding performances throughout their careers, shining particularly in the 19th century classics of Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.

Chi Cao’s final performance will be with Nao Sakuma in Romeo and Juliet at Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 30 June 7.30pm; an opportunity to celebrate the end of a career-long partnership.

Nao Sakuma’s final performance will be La Fille mal gardée at The Bristol Hippodrome on Friday 6 July, 7.30pm.

Jenna Roberts joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2003 and progressed rapidly through the Company, becoming a Principal in 2012. Jenna has danced, with great versatility, the leading roles in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, Daphnis and Chloë and Cinderella. A favourite with audiences in Birmingham and the Company’s touring venues, she is particularly celebrated for her moving portrayal of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Additionally, she has created roles in Jessica Lang’s Lyric Pieces, Alexander Whitley’s Kin., Michael Corder’s Le Baiser de la fée and David Bintley’s The Tempest.

Alongside her impressive repertory, Jenna also danced Juliet in the Ballet Hoo! Ballet Changed My Life television series and has worked extensively with Freefall Dance Company – Birmingham Royal Ballet’s associate company for dancers with severe learning disabilities.

Jenna Roberts’s final performance will be Romeo and Juliet at Birmingham Hippodrome on Friday 29 June, 7.30pm.

Soloist Feargus Campbell leaves Birmingham Royal Ballet after 13 years, during which time he has proved a highly valuable and popular member of the Company. His varied repertory includes Paris in Romeo and Juliet, Bottom in The Dream, Benno in Swan Lake, Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room and roles in David Bintley’s Carmina Burana, Faster and The Prince of the Pagodas.

Artist Anna Monleon leaves the Company after six years. Her performances include the White Cat in The Sleeping Beauty, Mrs Dimple in Pineapple Poll, Lead Czárdás and Mazurka in Coppélia and the Spanish Dance in The Nutcracker.

Artist Brogan McKelvey also leaves the Company at the end of the 2017/18 season to pursue choreographic and production opportunities across the country.

Wood Green will be part of the prestigious London Festival of Architecture this summer – hosting a treasure hunt with a difference.

The Find Wood Green hunt will run on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 June between 10am and 4pm, taking in some of the area’s fascinating buildings, and many of the talented people based there.

Visitors will get a map packed full of great locations, from 70s brutalist buildings and old factories to more modern creations including the colourful two-story sheds at Blue House Yard.

From musicians and sculptors to chefs, jewellers, saddlers and more, there are a huge range of makers and doers in Wood Green. Visitors will be able to sample some of their talents, and, like all good treasure hunts, there will be prizes too.

Wood Green was chosen for the London Festival of Architecture from more than 400 proposals following a successful bid from Haringey Council. The festival – which has been running since 2004 – is Europe’s biggest annual architecture festival with 400,000 people attending in 2017.

Haringey Council’s Chief Executive Zina Etheridge said:

It’s fantastic that Wood Green will be part of such a massive London event and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to show its architectural treasures off to the rest of the capital and beyond. We have some fascinating buildings here and some brilliant people who make them shine. Our treasure hunt will showcase all of this and some hidden gems along the way – so make sure you sign up now.

The tour will start at Blue House Yard, 5 River Park Rd, Wood Green, London N22 7TB.

The UK's biggest folk band, The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, have announced details of their new mini-album, ‘Sleepy Maggie + Remixes Reworkings and Rarities’, which will be released on Sunday 10 June.

Formed at Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire by fiddle player and arranger Joe Broughton (The Urban Folk Quartet, The Albion Band, Joss Stone) in 1997, the band's touring line-up features a stage-challenging 50 members.

It’s been a heady 12 months for The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble. Their acclaimed studio album, ‘Painted’, racked up a string of jaw-dropping reviews, and the collective also guested on Fairport Convention’s acclaimed ‘50:50@50’ album.

Meanwhile, in their hometown of Birmingham the full band stunned commuters at New Street railway station with a pop-up gig, and they wowed audiences at one of the biggest St Patrick’s Day celebrations outside of Ireland for the second consecutive year.

Now the stage-shaking ensemble is preparing to head out for their annual summer tour – which includes the fifth edition of their very own festival, Power Folk – and are set to release their new mini-album, ‘Sleepy Maggie + Remixes Reworkings and Rarities’.

A four-and-a-half-minute instrumental, lead track ‘Sleepy Maggie’ encapsulates the ensemble’s richly layered and powerful sound. With sweeping strings, rolling percussion, tight brass, a fleeting guitar solo, and an unexpected Eastern vocal incursion, it’s a dramatic track, both muscular and delicate, and oozing global influences.

Joe Broughton, The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble leader, said: “’Sleepy Maggie’ is a traditional tune which we’ve deconstructed and rearranged in typical ensemble fashion, pulling in ideas from various members of the collective to create something that sounds very, very different from versions you might have heard before.

“The roots of the tune remain – which you can hear in the fiddles at the beginning – but the new arrangement heads off to some interesting and surprising places. It’s supposed to be deliciously over the top!”

The deconstruction continues with a series of surprising remixes and re-imaginings by various members of the ensemble that pushes ‘Sleepy Maggie’ further into new musical territories.

Joe Broughton added: “The idea of remixing the track is very much in keeping with the group’s approach to making music, of using what could be a straight-forward melody as the basis for a tune and seeing how that can be developed, or pushed, to create something that still acknowledges the original source, but is somehow transformed into something new and exciting.

“This project started out as the single ‘Sleepy Maggie’, and after I mentioned the possibility of doing some remixes, in the pub after rehearsal one night, the ideas started flowing. Before I knew it I had club remixes, Chinese groove-monsters, full on drum ’n’ bass and more flowing into my inbox. I thought perhaps we could release a few of these with the single, but they just kept on coming.”

The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble’s energetic live sets are a sight to behold, featuring a 15-piece horn section, four cello players, five percussionists and four electric guitarists, plus fiddles, flutes, clarinets, euphonium, tuba, and accordion. They also all sing too.

Though rooted in traditional folk tunes, the personal influences and interests of each member shapes the set-list, pulling in everything from full-on rock grooves, to funk, jazz, hip-hop and reggae, to sounds from Eastern Europe and Asia. It’s a sound they’ve dubbed ‘Power Folk’.

In their 21 years, the band – still based at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – have packed out the Royal Albert Hall, and played some of the biggest festivals in the UK. Welcoming students and staff from the Conservatoire ensures that the standard of musicianship remains exemplary.

The musicals spectacular led by David Mahoney will feature The Novello Orchestra and some of the West End’s most acclaimed singers. The star-studded line up will include leading lady Kerry Ellis (whose credits include Wicked and Les Misérables), Dancing on Ice winner and X Factor star Ray Quinn, and Lucie Jones (Legally Blonde, Ghost, Rent, We Will Rock You), fresh from representing the UK in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

The Novello Orchestra has become synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the musicals, after recent acclaimed performances at the London Palladium, Wales Millennium Centre and Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

The celebration of musical theatre will feature show-stopping songs from Wicked, Les Misérables, Chicago, Hairspray, Miss Saigon and many more - all under the baton of David Mahoney, one of the UK’s leading pops conductors.

The Novello Orchestra has become renowned for it’s passionate, enigmatic performances and a charisma that has injected an energy and innovative take on the whole orchestral concept. The orchestra brings the very best of musical theatre to audiences through spectacular shows with stars of the West End and Broadway, with passionate playing, breathtaking orchestrations and the class and elegance of a night at the Oscars.

David Mahoney said: “I can’t wait to hit the road with The Novello Orchestra and this amazing line up of artists. The show is set to be a stylish, sophisticated take on well-known musical show-stoppers as well as more contemporary repertoire. A night not to be missed!.”

Birmingham Bach Choir head into summer with Espressivo!, an eclectic selection of Italian choral music spanning four centuries, which will be performed at St Albarn's church, Highgate, Birmingham on 30 June 2018.

With a programme of both sacred and secular choral music, highlights include madrigals by two of the greatest Italians of their day, late Renaissance composers Claudio Monteverdi and Carlo Gesualdo.

Born in 1567 in the Duchy of Milan, Monteverdi was a pioneer who modernised church music and laid the foundations for opera. The spine tingling Rimanti in pace a la dolente e bella Fillida is from his third book of madrigals, published in 1592.

A controversial figure, the private life of Carlo Gesualdo, the Prince of Venosa, has tended to overshadow his musical accomplishments. He brutally murdered his wife and her lover, having caught them in the act, in 1590 (for which he was not punished), had a disastrous second marriage marred by accusations of abuse, lived in isolation, and shacked up with a witch. Yet, having spent much of his considerable time and resources on music, his madrigals are considered some of the most powerful and expressive ever written, much admired since their rediscovery in the mid-20th century.

The programme also features choral works by versatile Baroque composer Antonio Lotti, who produced masses, cantatas, madrigals, and around 30 operas; the celebrated Venetian Giovanni Gabrieli; lauded Renaissance organist and composer Girolamo Frescobaldi; Gioachino Rossini, the 18th century writer famed for The Barber of Seville; and concludes with three magical part-songs, written in the early 1940s by choral master Ildebrando Pizzetti.

Birmingham Bach Choir Chair Sarah Platt, said: “This night of Italian music includes unusual choral pieces by composers perhaps better known for other works, as well as some real surprises by lesser known figures. There’s real variety, from intensely moving Renaissance madrigals to Pizzetti’s beautiful combination of poetry and biblical texts.”

As part of the effort to restore Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, Sutton Coldfield Arts and Recreational Trust (SCART), the managing charity trust, are launching a new ‘Friends of the Town Hall’ initiative to raise funds for the historic, locally listed venue.

Sutton Coldfield’s landmark Town Hall, built in 1865, was recently taken over from the City Council by the Sutton Coldfield Arts and Recreational Trust, a team of local Arts and Heritage enthusiasts. Since the Town Hall was faced with closure, its staff have created a jam-packed calendar of events from musicals to comedy, from classical concerts to tribute nights and now, fundraisers.

This inaugural fundraiser will see the versatile venue’s curtain open to an original Al Jolson and Frank Sinatra musical that first premiered in 2010 to great acclaim. Branded a “refreshing, slick piece of theatre” Ain’t No Angels, a show by Role-Play Productions and written by Ken Wragg, pits the two warring giants of the entertainment world against one another whilst stuck in purgatory waiting to discover whether they get to go “up” or “down”. With a narrative that looks back over each of the icons’ lives, this is a story “told to absolute perfection” and is most definitely not one to miss!

For this fundraiser, fifty percent of the proceeds of Ain’t No Angels ticket sales will go straight to the Town Hall Charity trust to help facilitate much needed improvements to the building to provide a valuable asset for Sutton Coldfield and the wider area. Money raised from the “Friends of the Town Hall” schemes will go towards projects such as updating the toilet facilities, refreshing the décor and revamping the dressing rooms to ensure the Town Hall remains a vibrant and inviting venue for many years to come.

Shiiine On is set to launch a new one day festival at Birmingham’s Genting Arena, taking place on Saturday 8 September 2018.  The incredible line-up includes more than 20 iconic bands and a Hacienda afterparty.  Orbital, Shed Seven Happy Mondays & Julian Cope headline and will be joined by a stellar supporting cast.

Over four stages there will be performances from: Orbital // Shed Seven // Happy Mondays // Embrace // Glasvegas // Julian Cope // Reverend & The Makers // Black Grape // Cast // Gang Of Four // The Wedding Present // Dreadzone // A Certain Ratio // Jim Bob (Carter USM) // Bentley Rhythm Ace // Thousand Yard Stare // The Stairs // Smoove & Turrell // Psyence // Deja Vega // Todd Terry // Marshall Jefferson //  Steve Lamacq // Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene) // Clint Boon (Inspiral Carpets) // Jon Dasilva // Uke2

The all-day event will be headlined by dance pioneers Orbital who are set to mark their 30th year at the forefront of dance music in style.  Renowned for their headline slots at Glastonbury amongst others, they will perform their full festival show in Birmingham.

Also playing the Main Stage are Indie heroes Shed Seven who are riding high on the success of their recent top ten album ‘Instant Pleasures’, and Happy Mondays who after 30 years in the business remain as one of the most important bands around.

In a never seen before line up exclusive, Shaun Ryder will support himself with a Black Grape set earlier in the day.  The Main Stage also features performances  from Embrace who are celebrating a top five album with 'Love Is A Basic Need' and Liverpool legends Cast.

Glasvegas will also play the Main Stage and are set to perform a special anniversary show celebrating ten years since the release of their debut album.

On the Forum Live Stage there will be a rare festival performance from Julian Cope.  The epic supporting cast comes from The Wedding Present, Gang Of Four, A certain Ratio, The Stairs, The Membranes, Psyence and Deja Vega.

The outdoor stage, sponsored by Eventim, features headliners Reverend And The Makers who will be joined by Dreadzone and Bentley Rhythm Ace. Jim Bob performs a solo set and his Carter USM bandmate Fruitbat’s band Abdoujaparov and Smoove & Turrell complete the line-up.

In Forum Live, Star Shaped bring us their Britpop disco featuring Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Cradock.  Steve will be playing best of his Northern Soul and Motown collection.

The “In conversation” stage hosts Steve Lamacq who will be performing his "Going Deaf for a Living" show and Steve "Adj" Atherton relaying hilarious tales of his time with the Stone Roses.

Senior Venue Sales Manager for the Genting Arena, Alex Ginever said: “These are the artists that sound tracked a golden era of music, and to have them all play this one day line-up is going to be epic!  The Genting Arena is becoming a firm favourite as an alternative festival location for organisers and we’re sure that gig-goers are going to love it.”

Ticket prices include entry to two special aftershow parties.  In the Main Arena the Hacienda will descend on Birmingham with Todd Terry headlining a superb line up alongside Marshall Jefferson and Jon Dasilva.

The unbelievable life story of one of Bollywood’s most controversial actors comes to life in the teaser for Rajkumar Hirani’s SANJU, which has been released. Ranbir Kapoor stars in the hotly anticipated biopic based on the dramatic life of actor Sanjay Dutt.

Releasing worldwide on 29th June 2018, Sanju is an exploration of one man’s battle against the more wild aspects of his nature and the powerful forces around him that threaten to engulf him. More than the story of an actor, the film depicts the journey of a man who endures everything that life can throw at him.

The trailer begins with an unrecognisable Ranbir Kapoor inhabiting the role of a more recognisable modern-day Sanjay Dutt, as he recounts his “rollercoaster ride” of a life. The audience is then treated to glimpses of various moments from Dutt’s tumultuous life, from his experience as a drug addict at 22 to the superstar lifestyle in his prime, to his time locked away as a prisoner.

Kapoor’s resemblance to Dutt throughout his life is uncanny, with the actor embodying the film’s tagline “one man…many lives”.

The film also features a supporting cast made up of recognisable faces including Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Vicky Kaushal, Jim Sarbh and Boman Irani.

Audiences are sure to be thrilled to see the stars of today playing the stars of yesterday.

Fasten your seatbelts for this turbulent ride – the unbelievable yet true story will shock and surprise cinema-goers!