Edinburgh International Festival 2008 Looks To European Identity

Submitted by edg on Wed, 2 Apr '08 8.30am

The 62nd Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) programme, which was launched this morning at The Hub in Edinburgh, turns its view to Europe and the "political, psychological, geographical, physical and cultural borders, and notions of contemporary Europe."

Artistic director Jonathan Mills, who debuted as director of Edinburgh's flagship festival last year, suggested that the overarching theme of the programme, which runs 8-31 August, gets to the Festival's original raison d'etre.

"The Edinburgh International Festival was founded in 1947 in the aftermath of a devastating war, as an optimistic expression of what Europe could be," said Mills.

"In the early 21st century, Europe is a very different place. Recently the European Union has expanded to encompass 27 countries from Estonia to Cyprus, with a combined population of some 500 million people. Political borders have been redrawn in every direction one cares to look. These borders are not just political or geographic but, more significantly, represent a profound shift of cultural, social and even religious identity and opportunity. These are exciting times in which to live in Europe; times which demand a commitment to our sense of community."

The origins of visiting artists to the festival range widely - from Eastern European to Middle Eastern countries, from Christian to Islamic traditions - offering what Mills believes to be "an exciting and often confronting journey" and an opportunity for broader understanding and reconciliation.

"A festival is an expression of the creative ambition of the community it serves. At the same time it is a place where the personal and collective challenges we face as a society can be explored; explored by artists working across and beyond the very boundaries which often seem unable to be bridged."

The EIF features 3 world premieres, 2 European premieres, 10 UK premieres, and new productions of well-known works.

Highlights include:

  • World premiere of Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray by New Adventures dance company.

  • World premiere of Heiner Goebbels' new work with The Hilliard Ensemble I went to the house but did not enter.

  • Valery Gergiev leads the London Symphony Orchestra in all seven of Prokofiev's symphonies and his violin concertos with Leonidas Kavakos, and conducts the Mariinsky Opera Company in a rare staged production of Szymanowski's Król Roger.

  • Premiere of Scottish Opera's new production of Smetana's The Two Widows.

  • World premiere of National Theatre of Scotland's 365 one night to learn a lifetime directed by Vicky Featherstone, written by David Harrower, with songs by Paul Buchanan.

  • State Ballet of Georgia led by prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili presents Giselle and a Mixed Bill.

  • Celebration of Olivier Messiaen's centenary including organ recitals by Naji Hakim.

  • Festival debuts include: HK Gruber, Andrzej Dobber, Elzbieta Szmytka, Mariusz Treliński, Andrzej Chyra, Palestinian National Theatre, TR Warszawa, East West Theatre Company, Abbas Kiarostami, Muziektheater Transparant, Vicky Featherstone, Nina Ananiashvili, State Ballet of Georgia, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Rosas, Chunky Move, Ohad Naharin, Whirling Dervishes of Turkey, Naji Hakim, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Andrzej Seweryn, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Philippe Herreweghe, Fabio Luisi, Jan Vogler, Hélène Grimaud, Gabriela Montero, Christiane Oelze, Susan Bullock, Christine Schäfer, Irvine Arditti.

  • Sharing the Festival - Class Enemy by East West Theatre Company of Sarajevo tours to Rutherglen, Cumbernauld and Stirling after its Festival performances.

  • Festival lectures by Neal Ascherson, Christopher Hitchens, Dr John Lennox, and Professor Graham Ward.

  • Bank of Scotland Fireworks display to live music performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with the Edinburgh Castle as the backdrop

Mills added:

"I believe that festivals are journeys; journeys to inspire us about our place in the world and our role as human beings. I hope that you will find your own way through this Festival, charting your own path and creating your own journey."

You can download the EIF programme and book tickets online.