Mervyn Peake: A Centenary Celebration
Although most famous for his best-selling Gormenghast series of Gothic novels, Mervyn Peake (1911-68) was a multi-talented artist in both words and images, with significant achievements to his name as poet, dramatist, painter, war artist and illustrator of classic children's books. The centenary of his birth is being marked by an exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery (until 17 July) presenting his most famous illustrations and prints. There will be talks by Peake's son, Sebastian, and Bill Gray, professor of literary history at the University of Chichester. Another exhibition at the university's Otter Gallery (26 May to 17 July) will focus on Peake's nonsense verse such as Rhymes without Reason.
London Symphony Orchestra/Kristjan Jarvi
In the early 1930s, the radical Mexican artist Diego Rivera produced a series of murals inspired by the Detroit motor industry. It is these that provided the somewhat surprising inspiration for Michael Daugherty's pulsating concerto, Fire and Blood. This is receiving its UK premiere at the Barbican on 17 April with the Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman and the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Kristjan Jarvi. The concert will also include two more familiar but equally dramatic pieces: the dazzling orchestration and delirious rhythms of Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird (1910), which turned the young composer into an overnight sensation; and Manuel de Falla's El Amor Brujo (or Love, the Magician, 1915), an equally popular dance score, written for a leading flamenco artist.
Double Portrait: Ida Barbarigo and Zoran Music
Italian artists Zoran Music (1909-2005) and Ida Barbarigo (born 1925) met in Trieste in the spring of 1944. However, their budding romance was disrupted when the area was occupied by Nazi forces and Music was sent to Dachau concentration camp, an experience he felt unable to deal with in his art until the 1970s. Although Barbarigo later became his muse and the subject of many of his paintings, they continued to live largely separate lives and to develop very different styles of work even after they married in 1949. But both were friends of Eric and Salome Estorick, who created the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, the only gallery in Britain that specialises in the field. This joint exhibition there (until 12 June) comprises 25 works by Music and Barbarigo along with photographs and ephemera.
The Royal Shakespeare Company at the Hampstead Theatre
In the first of three world premieres, Rona Munro's Little Eagles (16 April-7 May) tells the story of Sergei Korolyov, unsung hero of the Soviet space programme, who struggled to meet the demands of his political masters and yet just kept on beating the Americans. Silence, created by the Filter theatre company and David Farr (12-28 May), presents an enigmatic collage of characters, as Kate struggles to quiet the noises inside her head, Michael listens to a conversation recorded 20 years ago and Irina searches desperately for a missing friend. And Tarell Alvin McCraney's American Trade (2-18 June) celebrates the dizzying diversity of 21st-century London, where New York hustler Pharus comes to set up an escort agency.
Writers taking part in Wordfest (15-17 April) range from Dawn French to Antonia Fraser, and Michael Frayn to Amanda Foreman. Neuroscientist Sam Harris will be discussing with Ian McEwan whether science can provide us with a moral code. Alexandra Harris, lecturer in English at the University of Liverpool, will be exploring the themes of her book Romantic Moderns. There will be two performances of Elizabeth Wright's new play about sisters Virginia Woolf and artist Vanessa Bell, Vanessa & Virginia, in Newnham College. And Stefan Collini, professor of intellectual history and English literature at the University of Cambridge, will be delivering a lecture "The future of our universities".