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Festival watch;Arts

Friday the thirteenth: it may be an unlucky date, post-eclipse and too far through August for comfort, but there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy festival fun before the first chills of autumn.

The Three Choirs Festival,

billed as Europe's oldest music festival, is now in its 272th year. The cathedral cities of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester - this year's focus - take it in turns to play host. But, if the English choral tradition is at its heart, there are plenty of less obviously Middle England items on the programme, including a celebration of Duke Ellington's centenary.

Young people from all over the county get the chance to sing in the Festival Youth Chorus and to enjoy "hands on" music-making playing percussion with Ensemble Bash on Tuesday, August 24. On the same day, teenage singers and instrumentalists from the village of Vermont perform Italian and Balkan music in the evening and there is a junior organ recital in the morning.

Adults can escape to Kenny Ball's jazz, Verdi's Requiem, Poulenc, Mahler or Strauss during the week of August 21 to 27 and the inveterately non-musical can enjoy an edition of the Antiques Roadshow, a beer and cider festival or floral celebrations all over the county. Information and tickets: 01905 616200; web:

The ultra-fashionable Islington

theatre repairs to the country today for two weeks. The

Almeida at Malvern: the New Festival offers performances of

Marlowe's The Jew of Malta and Marivaux's The Triumph of Love, complete with post-show discussions, as well as dance by the Michael Clark Company. Tickets: 01684 892277

The Arundel Festival 1999

bursts into action with an opening firework concert on August 27. The audience is invited to enjoy the romantic atmosphere with the splendid castle as a backdrop. Pianist Wayne

Marshall is this year's festival artist- in-residence and he will be

performing with the BBC Big Band that evening in a concert

featuring original arrangements of pieces by Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington.

Children are well catered for at Arundel. There is a street theatre day on August 29 as well as Jack and the Beanstalk performed by the Norwich Puppet Theatre, The Shoemaker and the Elf by Inside Out Theatre and The Storycatchers, stories with puppets from Central and South America

during the week.

Young people aged 16 to 25 will have the most exciting

opportunity of all - to work with director Lawrence Till and

well-known children's author Philip Ridley on a residential course preparing traditional tales for performance in a presentation called Stories for Life.

All this, a new play by Philip

Ridley, Brokenville, The Comedy of Errors, The Marriage of Figaro, music from the English Classical Players, Kenny Ball, violinist Tasmin Little and 60 exhibitions of contemporary art in the Arundel Gallery Trail. Tickets: 01903 883474; information: 01903 882268

Heather Neill

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