The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) opened on the evening of Friday 7 August with The Harmonium Project at Usher Hall. The event was attended by approximately 19,500 viewers and marked the opening of the annual festival, which has been bringing the best international acts to Edinburgh since 1947.
The Harmonium Project, staged in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, engaged crowds with a recording of John Adams’s enigmatic choral piece Harmonium, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Conducted by Peter Oundijan, and featuring animations from 59 Productions, the highly successful event was an innovative opening for a festival which has always been at the forefront of new and creative showcases of talent.
The programme for 2015 presents 2,300 artists from 39 countries, and will run until the end of August, offering opera, theatre, classical music and dance from across the globe, bringing them all to the Scottish capital, and reiterating Edinburgh’s place as one of the leading cultural locations in the world. This year is the first for the new Director of the Festival, Fergus Linehan, who joins EIF fresh from festivals in Ireland and Australia.
As always, the festival showcases groundbreaking works across the board, such as the innovative use of animation to aide a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute or the revolutionary works that Israel Galván’s has brought to the world of Flamenco. Choreographer and theatre maker Alain Platel and les ballets C de la B and NTGent bring a celebration of brass bands in En avant, marche! and, for the first time, the festival will lend its profile as an international showcase to Scottish work, this year presenting Dragon and Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner.
Heading up EIF’s new theatrical commissions are The Encounter by Simon McBurney and Antigone by Ivo van Hove starring Juliette Binoche. Works celebrating English language theatre from Robert Lepage and Ex Machina, Citizens Theatre with David Greig and Graham Eatough are also in the line-up.
A more alternative selection can be found in the Russian Standard Vodka Hub Sessions featuring an array of jazz, folk and alternative music from the likes of Anna Calvi, Sufjan Stevens and more local names such as King Creosote. The Sessions bring a more diverse feel to the festival, and once again bring in an innovative use of music, with many performances combining rock and orchestral music, or digital animation with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Elsewhere, dance legend Sylvie Guillem performs in her final touring production Life in Progress, and two major European ballet companies, Ballett Zürich and Ballett am Rhein, offer up diverse contemporary programmes featuring choreography by Wayne McGregor and Christian Spuck.
The festival, now nearly 70 years old, never ceases to provide the best of performance from around the world, whether it be traditional staples or pioneering new talent. 2015’s programme is no exception with the festival once again showcasing highlights of Edinburgh’s summer season.
The Edinburgh International Festival, until 31 August, various venues across Edinburgh, Scotland.
Find out more www.eif.co.uk.
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1. Sylvie Guillem in Mats Ek’s Bye, part of Life in Progress. Photo: Lesley Leslie-Spinks.