WROCLAW, POLAND — With her right hand on her hip, Agata Zubel stood in front of a large black music stand, listening intently to the conversation between the members of eighth blackbird, a six-piece Chicago-based ensemble working on the contemporary classical piece “Madrigal,” by the French composer Christophe Bertrand. Read more

OXFORD, England — Dressed in shorts with tights and sneakers, her brown hair pulled back, Charlotte Lynch looked like any other 25-year-old graduate student when she stepped to the podium in front of the eight-piece string orchestra. Read more

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LONDON– The Common Linnets were the surprise hit of this year’s Eurovision song contest, a competition usually swept by pop tunes. With viewers from all over Europe texting and phoning to cast their vote, Dutch country artists Ilse DeLange and Waylon brought the house down and came in second with “Calm After the Storm.” Their duet, with its slide guitars and heart-tugging harmonies, has since become a top-10 hit across the continent, and the band is in negotiations with a major U.S. country-music label. “In Europe, when you say you do country music, it used to not be cool,” says Ms. DeLange, who sports very Dolly Parton-like dimples, “but it is becoming much more mainstream.” Read more

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BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND— A Plastic Rose, whose debut album is being released this month, already has the presence of a band that will feel at home on a stadium tour. The band members gained experience this year opening a few shows for Snow Patrol (three of their five members are from Northern Ireland), and at a recent small gig at Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre, the crowd went wild for songs like “Oceans” and “Kids Don’t Behave Like This.” Also on the bill that evening were two other talented, yet wildly diverse bands: the spunky, quirky Wonder Villains and the melodic Pretty Child Backfire, both of which have devoted followings. Read more

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By Ginanne Brownell
LONDON, United Kingdom — Compared to the 1988 Viennese premiere of Thomas Bernhard’s “Heldenplatz,” the opening of the play last week at London’s Arcola Theatre was a muted affair. There was both intense applause and intense conversation afterward, but no police presence, no protesters, nor any politicians calling for the play to be banned. Read more