Edinburgh International Festival Launches Eastern Themed 2011 Programme

Submitted by edg on Wed, 23 Mar '11 9.48pm

The Edinburgh International Festival 2011 will connect with Asia this Summer with three weeks of classical and contemporary music, dance, theatre, opera, and visual arts.

The Eastern themed Edinburgh programme, which was launched today, will bring artists from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, as well as North America, Germany, Belgium, Russia, the UK and from across the Arab speaking world.

"European artists, explorers and philosophers have drawn inspiration from the Far East for centuries," said Edinburgh International Festival Director Jonathan Mills.

"This Festival draws inspiration from across the diverse cultures of Asia, from Vietnam to China. We very much hope people will come on this exotic and sensual journey and immerse themselves in the beauty and traditions of Asian cultures both ancient and modern."

The fusion of Eastern and Western influences will be particularly in evidence in the ballet Peony Pavilion, based on a love story by one of China’s greatest writers and a contemporary of Shakespeare Tang Xianzu.

Peony Pavilion, which the EIF says "demonstrates the ideas and ambitions of Festival 2011", will be performed by the National Ballet of China with western classical ballet, a classic symphony orchestra, traditional Chinese instruments, and a quintessentially Chinese story.

Shakespeare: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese style

West meets East again with The Tempest, Shakespeare's popular play re-imagined by Mokwha Repertory Company from Seoul with fifth-century Korean chronicles.

King Lear is deconstructed as a one man play by Contemporary Legend Theatre from Taipei (pictured).

And in another adaptation of Shakespeare, Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe retells the familiar tale of Hamlet setting it in China and performing the tragedy in the acrobatic and elaborately costumed style of Jingju opera.

Orchestras galore

Debussy, Mahler, Messiaen and Schumann were each intrigued and inspired by the colours and sounds of Asia, music explored by artists across Festival 2011. Orchestras taking part this year include the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Yogyakarta Court Gamelan.

Scottish Ballet and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra perform Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet Song of the Earth, set to Mahler’s song cycle inspired by Chinese poetry from the T’ang Dynasty, alongside the world premiere of a work created for the company by acclaimed American-based choreographer Jorma Elo.

Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Opera bring a large scale production by Jonathan Kent, designed by Paul Brown, of Strauss’s epic opera Die Frau ohne Schatten, spanning life on earth and in the spirit world.

The EIF's ever-popular, grand finale, the Festival Fireworks Concert, returns this year with a new sponsor, Virgin Money, and another mega pyrotechnic show. Over 100,000 firework sequences will be set off from Edinburgh Castle on Sunday 4 September at 9pm, all choreographed to music performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Princes Street Gardens.

Festival Theatre

Currently rehearsing in Fez, with actors from across the Arab speaking world, One Thousand and One Nights re-examines the brutal, erotic and enthralling stories of Shahrazad in a production directed by Tim Supple.

Resonating with recent geo-political events in the Middle East, Nigel Lowery’s production of Semiramide for Vlaamse Opera, conducted by the great Rossini expert Alberto Zedda, is set in the final days of an Arabic dictator’s regime.

Stephen Earnhart and Greg Pierce’s World Premiere production of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, based on the novel by Haruki Murakami is a melting pot of performance, music, puppetry, dance and film.


Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto brings two poetic series of work not presented before in Europe. Lightning Fields and Photogenic Drawings reveal Sugimoto’s dramatic exploration of the very nature of photography, presented with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

A multi-layered exhibition celebrating the rich heritage of Indian and Javanese textile traditions and their continuing influence on innovative contemporary craft practice is presented in partnership with Dovecot Studios.


Dance at Festival 2011 includes French-Vietnamese choreographer Ea Sola’s re-creation of her acclaimed meditation on the human cost of war, Drought and Rain, New York-based Chinese choreographer Shen Wei’s Re-Triptych, the south Indian Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and Korean choreographer, Eun-Me Ahn and her company’s colourful tale of Princess Bari.

Musicians roll call

Among world-renowned musicians at this year's EIF are Kent Nagano and Myung-Whun Chung, Meagan Miller and Yundi making their Festival debuts. Joining them on the stages of the Scottish capital will be Maria João Pires, Ravi Shankar, Amjad Ali Khan, Vladimir Jurowski, Melvyn Tan, Xuefei Yang, Belcea Quartet, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and Diana Damrau, among many others.

The Legendary Music of Rajasthan, presented with the National Museums Scotland, brings the voices and instruments of the Langa and Manganiyar desert communities to the atrium of the Museum.

Talks and lectures

A series of talks and discussions presented in association with the British Council, called Continental Shifts, will pick up the themes and ideas of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Contributors will include James Kynge, Dr Sashi Tharoor, Professor Wang Hui, Christopher Brookmyre, Anita Nair, Shoma Chaudhury and Festival artists.

Box office opening

Public booking for Edinburgh International Festival tickets opens on Saturday 2 April online and by phone. Tickets start at £10 with discounts available.

Widening access to Festival 2011 sees the introduction of speech-to-text reporting in its talks, discussions and conversations and Talking programmes for foreign language theatre productions. Full performance and venue access information is in the Festival brochure.