A free, outdoor show by Scots electronic and acoustic composer Anna Meredith (see video below) and laser and light artists 59 Productions will launch this year’s 2018 Edinburgh International Festival.
“Five Telegrams”, at Festival Square on Friday 3rd August, looks to the past and present as it celebrates Scotland’s Year of Young People while marking the centenary of the end of the Great War. Digital design work will be projected onto the Usher Hall as it was with the Harmonium Project, to Meredith's orchestral accompaniment.
The title of Five Telegrams alludes to communications from the Imperial War Museum which document the experience of young soldiers at the end of the War. The work explores ideas around propaganda, censorship and technology, and how they resonate today. It will be developed with contributions from over 250 Edinburgh-based young people, who will co-design parts and perform in it.
There’s a contemporary, youthful theme running through this year’s festival programme as well as an array of internationally acclaimed artists: conductor Sir Simon Rattle, soprano Christine Goerke and violinist Nicola Benedetti, UK choreographers Akram Khan and Wayne McGregor, theatre makers Peter Brook, Katie Mitchell and Geoff Sobelle; American musicians and singer-songwriters St. Vincent and John Grant, actors Anna Deveare Smith and Irène Jacob, writers David Greig, Alice Birch and Édouard Louis, and an innovative contemporary music season called “Light on the Shore”.
“One of the joys of working in the Festival is the opportunity to welcome the world to our country and to our city – and then to have a great party!” said Edinburgh International Festival director Fergus Linehan, launching the festival programme at the McEwan Hall earlier today.
“In 2018 there is a particular emphasis on working collaboratively both with Scottish based artists and ensembles and with our international partners to make work from all over the world. We are celebrating different cultures, showcasing Scottish culture, and telling many stories through many different languages.’
The main theatrical attraction will be Paris’s renowned Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, which will be resident company at the Festival with three new works, including co-commissions The Beggar’s Opera and the cinematic La Maladie de la mort.
World leading orchestras include the London Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Major co-commissions include Xenos by Akram Khan, HOME by actor and illusionist Geoff Sobelle and choreographer Wayne McGregor Company’s Autobiography
Light on the Shore
Light on the Shore is at the Leith Theatre, which was recently revitalised by the Hidden Door Festival after being closed to the public since 1988.
The Light on the Shore season comprises three strands - Bands and Solo Artists in concert, Orchestral ensembles re-imagining ground-breaking Scottish albums, and Scottish curators creating unique festival experiences.
Bands and solo artists appearing in concert include Mogwai, Karine Polwart with her Scottish Songbook, King Creosote and Django Django.
Artists and orchestral ensembles include Anna Meredith and the Southbank Sinfonia reworking her Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning Varmints, the s t a r g a z e ensemble conducted Andre de Ridder performing Scottish electronic group Boards of Canada’s first EP, High Scores, and The Grit Orchestra performs Bothy Culture and Beyond, a reworking of the album by Scots artist Martin Bennet.
The curated strand will be bespoke events and experiences, featuring among others Scottish indie bands The Pastels and The Vaselines, electronic-folk pioneers Lau, American singer-songwriter Joan As Police Woman, and, in an event assembled by Celtic Connections, Quebequois quartet Le Vent du Nord.
On the classical side, young audiences will also have the opportunity to enjoy festival concerts free of charge. Over 600 young musicians from 50 nations will be performing at the Usher Hall with a new initiative - Free for Under 18s in 2018.
There’s also a 50% discount available for under 18s and students in full-time education on selected events from the opening of ticket sales. During August, £8 tickets are available for those aged 26 and under on the day of performance.
Youth Orchestras include the YOA Orchestra of the Americas, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the Colburn School Orchestra, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of the USA and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. The National Youth Choir of Scotland also performs in residency, featuring in four concerts including the Opening Concert.
The International Festival hosts the semi-finals and final of the Eurovision Young Musicians 2018, an initiative of the European Broadcasting Union which sees young soloists from 18 nations compete to become European Young Musician of the Year.
Young stars of classical music make their International Festival debuts in recital at The Queen’s Hall, including Edinburgh-born soprano Catriona Morison, Norwegian violist Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad, and Turkish tenor Ilker Arcayürek, with pianist Simon Lepper.
The Edinburgh International Festival will climax with the always popular Virgin Money Fireworks Concert on Monday 27 August. Over 400,000 fireworks will light up the sky above Edinburgh Castle, choreographed to live music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra led by conductor Clark Rundell.
Leonard Bernstein opens this year’s fireworks music accompaniment, celebrating the centenary of his birth in 1918. The SCO will then play music from Gustav Holst’s The Planets while fireworks crack above them.