Edinburgh International Festival 2016 Begins and Ends at Castle

Submitted by edg on Wed, 6 Apr '16 11.47pm

A large scale, digitally animated light show projected onto Edinburgh Castle battlements, and set to a soundtrack compiled by Scottish rock band Mogwai, will take place on the first Sunday of the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival.

“Deep Time”, is a free outdoor show by 59 Productions, the creators of last year’s popular Harmonium Project.

Using illuminations and animations, projected onto Edinburgh Castle and the castle rock, it will explore 350 million years of Edinburgh history, uncovering its pre-historic geology, and celebrating the intellectual legacy of the city and, in particular, James Hutton, the Edinburgh scientist and ‘father of modern geology’. The show was made with the support of The University of Edinburgh, with contributions from academics from science, arts and humanities.

The event, at 10.30pm on 7th August, will be free but ticketed, with full event and booking details released on 20 June.

Contemporary Music

Deep Time is just one show among many in this year’s International Festival which will see 2,442 artists from 36 nations perform in the city from Friday 5 to Monday 29 August.

EIF director Fergus Linehan promised “an unparalleled celebration of creativity, virtuosity and originality” as he announced the full programme of music, theatre, and dance today.

Contemporary music remains prominent in the festival programme including a concert series celebrating Scottish contemporary music (supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund).

The line-up includes:

  • Lau’s Martin Green working with collaborators from Portishead
  • The Unthanks and Mogwai in the world premiere of Flit
  • Greg Lawson’s monumental reworking of Martyn Bennett’s masterpiece Grit which was originally commissioned by and premiered at Celtic Connections
  • Edinburgh’s Mercury Prize winning Young Fathers
  • Glasgow electronic artist Hudson Mohawke’s production work with ANOHNI and Oneohtrix Point Never
  • the world premiere of Wind Resistance from folk singer-songwriter Karine Polwart
  • documentary Where You’re Meant To Be with live performance from Aidan Moffat
  • Mogwai performing live their new album Atomic
  • the folk, jazz and classical Indian fusion of Yorkston/Thorne/Khan
  • a special performance from post-punk pioneer Emma Pollock.

Alan Cumming, who caused a stir at the Festival with The Bacchae in 2007, is performing a nightly cabaret show over the three weeks at the EIF H.Q., The Hub. In the show, called Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs! he will “dispense seductive songs and intimate stories”.

As well as home-grown talent, world-renowned Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour has his Festival debut at the Usher Hall; and Canadian post-rock band God Speed You! Black Emperor play a one-off concert as well as providing the live soundtrack to dance piece monumental.

Icelandic superstars Sigur Rós play two nights at the International Festival in a rare visit to the Scotland; and multi-instrumentalist and composer Yann Tiersen – best known for his soundtrack to the hit film Amelie – performs two intimate concerts at The Hub.

A touch of the Weimar

Music from the early 20th century, including jazz, chanson and cabaret performance, is showcased across the programme, featuring songs drawn from the Weimer Germany, Belle Époque Paris and down-town New York.

Australian performer Barry Humphries (of Dame Edna fame) leads an evening of music from the time of the Weimar Republic, joined by cabaret star Meow Meow and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

In The Queen’s Hall series, baritone Simon Keenlyside performs music from the early 20th century featuring works by Gershwin, Berlin, Weill and Kern, whilst French soprano Patricia Petibon explores Belle Époque Paris through song, chanson and piano music by Satie, Poulenc, Fauré, Hahn, Bernstein and Gershwin amongst others.

Songlines Follows Fanfare

Following the success of 2015’s project Fanfare, the International Festival extends its programme across the city by inviting Edinburgh to get singing.

Songlines is a citywide celebration of shared song taking place throughout the day on Sunday 21 August with opportunities to join in or simply enjoy listening to communal singing in unexpected places.

Further information about venues, timings and songs included will be released in July.

Classical round-up

The world’s foremost classical musicians gather once more in Edinburgh with 42 concerts and recitals in the Usher and Queen’s halls.

Visiting orchestras include the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra.

Major soloists performing include pianist Daniil Trifonov, who gives three concerts throughout the International Festival, Sir András Schiff, Richard Goode, Maxim Vengerov and Mikhail Pletnev, as well as world-class singers including Anja Kampe, Karen Cargill, Stuart Skelton and Vitalij Kowaljow.

On the podium, acclaimed conductors include Herbert Blomstedt, Sir Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézét Seguin, Marin Alsop and Donald Runnicles.

Classical music editor Barnaby Miln will be previewing the EIF music programme in more detail.

Theatre highlights

Yorkshire director John Tiffany - who directed the acclaimed Black watch - returns to Scotland with the European premiere of his production of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, running at the King’s Theatre for two weeks.

The show, starring Cherry Jones as Amanda Wingfield, was originally created with American Repertory Theatre in Boston and transferred to Broadway in 2013.

400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death

2016 also marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, whose work resonates throughout the classical music and theatre programme.

Three theatre companies present contrasting international perspectives on his work.

Renowned theatre maker Thomas Ostermeier returns to the International Festival with a reworking of Richard III in a critically acclaimed production from Berlin’s Schaubühne Theatre; Cheek by Jowl, led by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, unites with Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre for their International Festival debuts with Measure for Measure and British-born director Dan Jemmett and his French-based company Eat a Crocodile bring Shake, a five-piece re-imagining of Twelfth Night.

The Bard’s influence also extends through the classical music programme with Shakespearean-inspired music from Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Berlioz, Strauss and Tchaikovsky in concerts at the Usher and Queen’s halls.


The International Festival has co-produced the revival of seminal dance work monumental, which brings together two of Canada’s most uncompromising performing arts groups, contemporary dance group The Holy Body Tattoo and post-rock pioneers Godspeed You! Black Emperor. First created in 2005, the piece originally featured nine dancers performing to a recording by the band.

Multi award-winning Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova moves from classical to contemporary as she and her company of dancers – including Ukrainian ballet star Sergei Polunin - perform three brand new dance works created for her by choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita.

Scottish Ballet returns to the International Festival with a double bill of major contemporary dance works from internationally acclaimed choreographers Crystal Pite and Angelin Preljocaj, Emergence and MC 14/22 (Ceci est mon corps).

Family shows

The International Festival continues to programme work for young people and families, including two contrasting dance pieces.

Fusing dance, storytelling and interactive animation, Chotto Desh is the first family show created by Akram Khan, reworked from his Olivier Award-winning autobiographical solo show DESH.

Raw is a dynamic and gritty dance theatre work from Belgium’s Kabinet K, made by young people for young people.

Free Conversations with the Beeb

Festival Insights this year includes a special event commemorating the centenary of the Easter Rising and independence struggle in Ireland.

Before the Hudson and the Liffey explores the life of James Connolly, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, but also an Edinburgh man. This special event brings together actors, musicians and commentators for reflections on his life.

For a second year, the International Festival partners with BBC Arts online to present Artists Conversations, streamed live online and later available to a wider audience through BBC iPlayer.

Free tickets are available to each event, which are recorded in front of a studio audience.

Featured artists and booking details are announced in July.

Last year’s Conversations included Sylvie Guillem, Juliette Binoche, Simon McBurney and Robert Lepage.

Fireworks Finale

As always, Virgin Money Fireworks Concert provides the grand finale to Edinburgh’s summer festival season, on Monday 29 August.

Over 400,000 fireworks will burst into the sky above Edinburgh Castle, choreographed to live music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Estonian conductor Kristiina Poska, continuing 2016’s Shakespearean celebrations with two interpretations of his best known love story, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and the Symphonic Dances from Bernstein’s classic West Side Story.

Ahead of the Fireworks Concert, there will also be a Schools Concert taking place at the Ross Theatre in Princes St Gardens on the morning of Monday 29 August, with school children invited from across Edinburgh to hear live music from SCO VIBE, a fusion orchestra open to young musicians aged 11–18.

Culture Summit

Youssou N’Dour, a former Minister for Culture in his native Senegal, is among the artists joining policy makers and culture industry players at the biennial Edinburgh International Culture Summit.

The summit’s theme this year is Culture: Building Resilient Communities.

Ticket Deals

For those aged 18 and under there's 50% off on selected events from the opening of ticket sales.

Students in full time education are entitled to a discount of 30% from 6 July onwards, with £8 tickets available for those aged 26 and under, on the day of performance.

Tickets for all events at the International Festival go on sale on Saturday 16 April at 10am, unless signed up for priority booking which opens on Wednesday 6 April at 10am.

Further information available at Edinburgh International Festival