City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Classical Music Preview for 2012 Edinburgh International Festival

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 24 March 2012

Tokyo Gagaku orchestra

In recent days I have listened carefully to the enthusiasms that my friends have about their music plans for the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival. Usually there is one common topic that hits their headlines - but not this year. Many a time the top slot can be so hyped up that when the time comes it hardly matches expectations.

Here are five that have excited my friends:

The opening concert in the Usher Hall on Friday 10 August has the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus conducted by Sir Andrew Davis perform Frederick Delius’s A Mass of Life. This is one of the grandest choral pieces ever written.

The Kathleen Ferrier Centenary Celebration Concert at The Queen’s Hall on Saturday 11 August remembers the legendary contralto, who was one of the finest voices Britain has ever produced.

The young Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov is at The Queen’s Hall on Friday 24 August. Within weeks of one another in 2011 he won both Israel’s Arthur Rubinstein Competition and Russia’s Tchaikovsky Competition.

On Wednesday 22 August there is a performance of Gagaku - The Imperial Court Music and Dance of Japan, given by the Musicians of the Imperial Household Agency, Tokyo Gagaku (pictured) is the world’s oldest living orchestral tradition and this is their only performance in the United Kingdom.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Garry Walker perform the final concert - the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert on Sunday 2 September. It is a feast of pageantry and patriotism, celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and also echoing the Festival’s Shakespearean offerings.

This year there is a solid programme of interesting orchestral music - twenty three performances by twelve orchestras: Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, Cleveland, European Union Youth, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Budapest Festival, City of Birmingham Symphony and the Philharmonia.

This year we are back at Greyfriars Kirk with nine interesting concerts - all at 5.45pm (one of the EIF ticket offers is all 9 concerts for the price of 8).

For many, the Festival is The Queen’s Hall at 11am. There are nineteen recitals and fourteen of them are to be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Go to the back of the Festival brochure and there are some treats. Five of the Conversations with Artists are with musicians - William Christie, Nicola Benedetti, Les Vents Français, Hebrides Ensemble and New York’s Emerson String Quartet. They are at The Hub (brochure p.66).

There are four Reflections on Song at The Hub (p.67) as well as two musical Masterclasses at The Hub (brochure p.67).

Tickets are now on sale for the Edinburgh International Festival