Hilary Mantel. Portrait by Leonie Hampton for the New Statesman
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Hilary Mantel becomes a Dame in the Queen's birthday honours

Actors Angelina Jolie and Damian Lewis and Conservative MP Nicholas Soames also received gongs.

Hilary Mantel has been made a Dame in the Queen's birthday honours, in recognition of her services to literature.

Twice winner of the Man Booker Prize, Mantel's bestselling novels about Thomas Cromwell are currently appearing on stage in the West End.

She said:

I'm delighted to receive this honour.... I see it not so much as a reward for the past, more as encouragement for the future.... I hope it will please the many people who have helped, guided and encouraged me over a writing career of some 30 years.

Speaking to Erica Wagner in the New Statesman earlier this year, Mantel was characteristically firm about whether writers should chase after accolades:

Public opinion is not something that features very highly in my life. Nobody should go into a trade like writing expecting applause, or universal approval, or even popularity.

Other honour recipients on the list include Angelina Jolie, who receives an honorary damehood "for services to UK foreign policy and her work to fight sexual violence". The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which Jolie convened with foreign secretary William Hague has just ended in London - as Aisha Gill put it in her piece on the summit for the NS, it was a welcome attempt to stop "the female body being a battleground".

Nicholas Soames, the Conservative MP for Mid Sussex, receives a knighthood for political services. A grandson of Winston Churchill, he told the BBC:

I have been an MP for over 30 years.... I love Parliament and I hope I have made a small contribution, alongside many others, to the public and political life of this country.

The full list of over a thousand honours is available here.

BBC/Chris Christodoulou
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Proms 2016: Violinist Ray Chen was the star of a varied show

The orchestra soaked up his energy in Bruch's first violin concerto to end on a triumphal note. 

Music matters, but so does its execution. This was the lesson of a BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus programme which combined both a premiere of a composition and a young violinist’s first performance at the Proms. 

The concert, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, opened with Tchaikovsky’s symphonic fantasy The Tempest, a lesser-known sibling to his Romeo and Juliet overture. The orchestra got off to a fidgety start, with some delayed entries, but fell into line in time for the frenetic chromatic runs that drive the piece. The end, a muted pizzicato, was suitably dramatic. 

Another nature-inspired piece followed – Anthony Payne’s composition for chorus and orchestra, Of Land, Sea and Sky. Payne drew on his memory of watching of white horses appearing to run across water, as well as other visual illusions. At the world premiere, the piece began promisingly. The chorus rolled back and forth slowly over scurrying strings with an eerie singing of “horses”. But the piece seemed to sink in the middle, and not even the curiosity of spoken word verse was enough to get the sinister mood back. 

No doubt much of the audience were drawn to this programme by the promise of Bruch violin concerto no. 1, but it was Ray Chen’s playing that proved to be most magnetic. The young Taiwanese-Australian soloist steered clear of melodrama in favour of a clean and animated sound. More subtle was his attention to the orchestra. The performance moved from furious cadenza to swelling sound, as if all players shared the same chain of thought. Between movements, someone coughed. I hated them. 

Ray Chen in performance. Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Chen’s playing had many audience members on their feet, and only an encore appeased them. It was his first time at the Proms, but he'll be back. 

The orchestra seemed to retain some of his energy for Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region. Composed between 1904 and 1906, this is a setting of lines by the US poet Walt Whitman on death, and the idea of rebirth.

The orchestra and chorus blended beautifully in the delicate, dark opening. By the end, this had transformed into a triumphal arc of sound, in keeping with the joyful optimism of Whitman’s final verse: “We float/In Time and Space.” 

This movement from hesitancy to confident march seemed in many ways to capture the spirit of the concert. The programme had something for everyone. But it was Chen’s commanding performance that defined it.