British Queen celebrates




Just over a week after her spectacular sweep at the Grammys, soul diva Adele triumphed on home soil at the annual Brit Awards in London.

The 23-year-old picked up two awards -- including the prestigious British album of the year -- to add to the six Grammys she won in Los Angeles, cementing her status as one of Britain's most successful pop exports in years.

Adele -- whose career was threatened last year by a throat illness -- claimed British female solo artist and best album for "21," which topped the charts in Britain and the United States.

Accepting the best album gong, she said: "Nothing makes me prouder than coming home with six Grammys and then coming home and winning British album of the year.

"I'm so proud to be British and to be flying the flag."

The singer also thanked her record company "for letting me be the kind of artist that I've always wanted to be," and her fans. "No one's ever made me feel like I have to be any different, so thank you very much," she added.

However, her global chart-topper "Rolling at the Deep" was beaten to best single by British boy band One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful."




Pop legend and actress Whitney Houston died in a Beverly Hills hotel, triggering shock and tributes as the music world gathered for the annual Grammy awards show. She was 48.

Houston, whose hits include "I will Always Love You," was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton, hours before a traditional pre-Grammys dinner at the hotel where she was reportedly due to perform.

Musicians, gathered ahead of the Grammys on Sunday evening, lined up to pay tribute to the singer, who sold over 170 million records before descending into a very public battle with substance abuse.

"She was one of the greatest singers I ever heard," said veteran crooner Tony Bennett, on the red carpet at the Beverly Hills hotel, where Houston's body was found in her fourth floor room.

Obit:Whitney Houston broke records, barriers and hearts

Police confirmed her death in a brief statement outside the hotel, where stars were gathering for the annual pre-Grammys dinner hosted by veteran producer Clive Davis.

"At 3:55 pm, Whitney Houston was pronounced dead at the Beverly Hilton hotel," said Mark Rosen, a police spokesman.

Rosen said police received an emergency call from someone in her entourage and found Houston on the floor of her room as attempts were being made to resuscitate her.

"There were no obvious signs of criminal intent at this time, and it is being investigated by the Beverly Hills police department," the police spokesman added.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

People magazine and the TMZ celebrity website reported that Houston had been due to perform at the Saturday night dinner, but this could not immediately be confirmed.

A mobile crime laboratory and a number of police cars were stationed outside the hotel, while inside guests watched live television coverage about Houston's death.

Condolences poured in on Twitter from shocked fans and from the famous, as sadness over the news spread through the entertainment world.


Criticism was mounting Wednesday over the removal of Fred Goodwin's knighthood, with former chancellor Alistair Darling and the Institute of Directors among those condemning the move against the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief.

Writing in the Times, Labour's Darling said: "There is something tawdry about the government directing its fire at Fred Goodwin alone; if it's right to annul his knighthood, what about the honours of others who were involved...?

"If policy is not based on principle but is about individuals, the government will carry on being blown in the wind," he wrote.

The Queen stripped Goodwin of his honour -- given for services to banking -- on Tuesday after a committee of senior civil servants recommended it be annulled, although Goodwin has not been convicted of a criminal offence.

Its removal places Goodwin in a select club that also includes Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Soviet spy Anthony Blunt, and Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who lost his honour the day before he was executed.

The committee said Goodwin had brought the honours system into "disrepute" with management which brought the bank to the brink of collapse, resulting in a £45 billion taxpayer bailout in 2008.

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said he was concerned about "anti-business hysteria".

"I don't approve of the decision to strip Fred Goodwin of his knighthood," he told BBC News.

"I don't think it's a business issue -- I think it's an honours system issue. There's a well-established practice where if people are convicted of a criminal offence, they lose their honours that they've been granted -- that's historic and that is appropriate.


The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has paid tribute to the "extraordinary" and "abiding importance" of the King James Bible at a service to mark the 400th anniversary of the translation.

The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales led around 2,000 worshippers at the service in Westminster Abbey where early editions of the Bible were presented at the altar.

Dr Williams told the congregation that the translators would have been "baffled and embarrassed" by the idea of a perfect translation but had sought instead to convey the "almost unbearable weight of divine intelligence and love" into the English language.

"The temptation is always there for the modern translator to look for strategies that make the text more accessible - and when that temptation comes, it doesn't hurt to turn for a moment - for some long moments indeed - to this extraordinary text," he said.

The service was attended by senior clerics including the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, the Bishop of London Dr Richard Chartres and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, former head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.



Cineworld has revealed its box office takings have recovered thanks to a strong run of 3D films including the latest Pirates of the Caribbean caper.

The group said the release of more 3D films such as Transformers: Dark of the Moon and popular movies including The Hangover part two had helped box offices revenues rise 1.1% in the 26 weeks to June 30.

The performance, which benefited from weaker comparatives with the previous year, represents a turnaround from the first 19 weeks of its financial year, when box office takings declined by 7.8% because of a lack of 3D films and comparisons with Avatar and Alice in Wonderland a year earlier.

Cineworld said it should benefit over the next six months from a strong line-up of 3D films, including the final Harry Potter instalment, Puss In Boots and Tintin.

3D movies not only command a higher price but also boost the cinema's revenues as customers buy special glasses.

Photo by UrbanCanvas

The City of London Festival presents an unprecedented array of music and culture from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. From 26 June 2011
Australia’s foremost didjeridu player "a Maori Waka up the Thames" premières of works by major composers including Brett Dean, Peter Sculthorpe and Elena Kats-Chernin "the first ever New Zealand Film Festival" performances by John Williams, Pacific Curls, Dame Gillian Weir, Richard Nunns, Royal New Zealand Ballet and more.
Music, dance, art and film from down under are celebrated in this year’s City of London Festival, continuing its annual Trading Places theme, in which Festival Director Ian Ritchie explores and develops diverse connections between the City of London and the rest of the world – cultural and commercial, historical and still emerging. 

The Festival opens on 26 June with a tribute to one of Australia’s greatest – and quirkiest – composers Percy Grainger, who died 50 years ago this February. A Fifteen Piano Salute to Grainger is a promenade performance beginning at Peter’s Hill near St Paul’s Cathedral. The students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Centre for Young Musicians perform some of Grainger’s best-known works on Luke Jerram’s iconic Street Pianos. After the performance, the pianos will be scattered throughout the Square Mile for anyone and everyone to play. Grainger’s music will be heard at eight further concerts throughout the Festival and he is the subject of two lectures – Percy Grainger: Musical Gigolo and Percy Grainger: Australia’s greatest composer? – and a free exhibition.
Australia’s foremost didjeridu player William Barton takes up residence during the Festival. He joins the Choir of Southwark Cathedral for the London première of a new version of Australian musical visionary Peter Sculthorpe’s deeply moving Requiem (4 July). The unique programme includes one of Barton’s own improvisations. He also appears at two of London’s most beautiful livery halls – Apothecaries’ Hall with pianist Piers Lane (1 July) and Goldsmiths’ Hall with the Goldner String Quartet (6 July).
Over 30 living composers from Australia and New Zealand are represented at this year’s Festival. Illustrious figures such as New Zealand’s Gillian Whitehead and Australia’s Brett Dean and Peter Sculthorpe will be in London to hear their work being performed by world-class musicians. 
Legendary Australian guitarist John Williams and the English Chamber Orchestra present Sculthorpe’s Nourlangie, a guitar concerto inspired by a stunning rock escarpment in the Australia’s Kakadu National Park, at Guildhall Old Library (27 June). The concert is followed by a unique happening in Guildhall Yard – Dusk Chorus is a musical soundscape of birdsong and wildlife recorded in the Australian Outback, with new choreography depicting the dance of the lyrebird and giant birds made from recycled rubbish. The piece is created by David Lumsdaine, realised by Craig Vear with choreography by Rachel Lopez de la Nieta.
Ora Barlow and Kim Halliday from Pacific Curls – one of Oceania’s most creative group of performers – join cellist Alexander Ivashkin at Girdler’s Hall (30 June). Their indigenous-meets-classical programme features one of Bach’s masterpieces as well as recent works by Brett Dean and Gillian Whitehead. Grammy Award-winning The King’s Singers give the world première of Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin’s River’s Lament at the Lord Mayor’s residence Mansion House (7 July). Kiwi baritone Jonathan Lemalu performs with the New Zealand String Quartet at Merchant Taylors’ Hall (11 July). New Zealand-born organist Dame Gillian Weir and rising star soprano Anna Leese perform with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simone Young at St Paul’s Cathedral (12 July). Richard Nunns, New Zealand’s leading exponent of Maori instruments, performs with the New Zealand String Quartet at Haberdashers’ Hall (13 July) and the NZTrio at Butchers’ Hall (14 July).  Nunns will also give a presentation on traditional instruments, Voices of the Land: Nga Reo o te Whenua (12 July).


Photo by Ciara Montesanto


Are you more of a William Hung than a Kelly Clarkson? Or are you a decent singer—and wish you were a little better? Whatever your vocal skill, these tips for improving your singing voice are sure to get you singing and sounding much better.

Tip 1: Think about breath. Without proper breathing, you aren’t using your voice to its full potential. To find out if you’re breathing correctly for singing, place your hand on your stomach and inhale. Your hand should move out—your stomach should be expanding, not your ribcage and chest. That’s because you need to support your breath with your diaphragm—the muscle underneath the lungs that inflates them. The diaphragm is activated by abdominal muscles, and it’s much stronger than the muscles between your ribs—the muscles you’re using if your chest, not your stomach, expands with your breath.


Photo by the handbook


As I recline on the gold-threaded silk cushions, nibbling on satay sticks, the sound of the mandolin ringing through my ears, silk-dressed geisha’s at my beck & call, it strikes me how small the world has become. I order a bottle of Tiger and reflect on my recent travels. I sit not in some high-class opium den in the mid-Orient, though. This is Soho, London at the aptly named Opium.

It could equally be Hakkisan, Bam-Bou, Chinawite or any number of Chinese, Vietnamese, Malay style members’ bars, which seem to dominate our streets this year. Perhaps it’s the British weather combined with airline price wars, global accessibility through the web coupled with Britain’s ever growing cultural mix—or perhaps it is just pure boredom with 'Cool Britannia’. Whatever the reasons, the fact is there is a growing desire to go and discover new lands away from the sewage swamped shores of the Med where local culture is washed away in a sea of Sun newspapers, English caf’s and pints of cheap Lager.


The King's Speech has picked up a number of early prizes at this year's Bafta film awards.

Helena Bonham Carter won the Supporting Actress award for her role as the Queen Mother, while co-star Geoffrey Rush picked up the Supporting Actor prize for his portrayal of speech therapist Lionel Logue.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson presented the Outstanding British Film award to the movie. Director Tom Hooper paid tribute to its writer David Seidler and added: "This is absolutely thrilling to win this award in this room with so many colleagues who we have worked with over the years."

The King's Speech, which picked up the first award of the night for Original Music, was also given the Original Screenplay gong.

photo by ideacrease


Achievements PR company under the auspices of the Greater London Authority will hold a number of events in 2012 focused on advertising the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship hosted by Ukraine and Poland. All events will be held as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme of the Summer Olympic Games on January 1, 2012, to August 1, 2012, initiated by the GLA. 


The programme of events has been already included into the Cultural Events Brochure for the Summer Olympic Games. The brochure covers all events to be held in London in 2012 on the threshold of the Olympics. Ten to fifteen advertising events are planned to be organized at best sites of London. Their aim is to draw interest of the international community to Ukraine and Poland, and to encourage a wide-scale arrival of fans to Euro 2012 matches. Outdoor advertising space, parks, central streets, London’s top galleries and concert halls will be assigned for this purpose.