Last week, on Thursday February 18th, I had the great honour to be invited to take part in one of the festivals held at London's Southbank Centre. As part of the Imagine Children's Festival, which ran from February 9th until the 22nd, I joined celebs, such as Cerrie Burnell and Carrie Grant, and many others to read a chapter of the classic kids book Matilda for Dahl In A Day.
For a lot of people involvement in theatre, music and art can educate. It can battle isolation, loneliness and, as dramatic as it sounds, I believe that the love of art can be a reason to get up in the morning and live! Through the dark periods of my life, art in many different guises has been a glittering light in the darkness.
Combatting extremism will take a multinational movement towards international relations based in humanitarian principles, rather than national self-interest only - a principle that has, in the past, served extremists rather than confronted them, and which reflects the interests of an elite corporate and ruling class rather than the people of Britain, regardless of background or religion.
The recognition of British Asian arts couldn't have been more high profile or significant when Jude Kelly and the team at Southbank Centre decided to create an entire festival around it. Dubbed 'Alchemy', this festival reflected the celebration of British Asians' cultural contribution and moved the game on.
Seven artists were invited to curate their own section of this exhibition, choosing particular periods and subjects from post-war British cultural history. Over 250 objects are included in this vast exhibition, with every media possible included - from paintings to photographs, from sculpture to scientific surveys, and everything in-between.
I'm writing this as I return from my annual trip to Edinburgh's Fringe Festival. I tend to head up for a couple of days each year to catch shows, catch up with colleagues (and this year catch a cold too). Every year, I look to see where disabled artists are in the mix - and this year the spread is impressive.
What were we dancing to back then? Talking Heads' Life During Wartime and Kraftwerk's Computer Love. It sums up a lot. What was I trying to do? To be a composer, musician, artist. To make records like a band or producer would, in the studio but also to be a composer like Stravinsky and Philip Glass - whatever that meant.
From homicides to war, the human condition and homosexuality to great achievements, sex trafficking to acid-burning of women, the common thread running underneath these photographs, selected out of over 103,000 entries worldwide, is the deep seated human desire to live out a life of irrevocable dignity.
Another huge 'family' wall comes from Stik in London. Super-sized, brighly coloured and highly stilized, the human figures Stik paints are surprisingly capable of conveying intense body language and complex emotions. We love this family themed piece under the Hungerford Bridge at the Southbank Centre.
Michael was that rarity, a creative artist who was fanatically devoted to his work, yet enjoyed and indeed relished the company of ordinary people. The classical music world nowadays is in need of figures like Tippett: in this time of economical uncertainties and general disillusion, people would benefit greatly from the example a composer who constantly engages with the world outside his studio.