Edinburgh International Festival 2013 Launches

Submitted by edg on Wed, 13 Mar '13 8.21am

Frank Zappa, a Leonardo da Vinci anatomy exhibition, chinese heavy metal, and a theatrical journey to a "new Earth" can all be found at this year's Edinburgh International Festival. Artistic director Jonathan Mills described the festival's theme in 2013 as "the way technology seizes and shifts our perceptions of the world." 

Mills said: ‘It is the role of artists to think differently, to offer us provocations and inspiring contrasts to our everyday lives. Artists’ innovation in everyday materials has played a key role in the evolution of artistic techniques and thinking, and of how we experience the world. We celebrate this interaction through historical as well as contemporary work."


The programme includes a crowd-sourced work where people are being asked to submit their sound memories of Edinburgh and the Festival to contribute to a new work Festival City and then engage in shaping Boston based composer Tod Machover’s creation through web-based music apps specially designed at MIT Media Lab. The short new work will be premiered at the Usher Hall on 27 August, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conducted by Peter Oundjian making his Festival debut.


Opening the opera programme, Opéra de Lyon brings Festival audiences Beethoven’s Fidelio set in space. In his first opera production, pioneering contemporary media artist Gary Hill reimagines Beethoven’s work in the present and future, the story unfolding on board the doomed spacecraft Aniara as it hurtles towards infinity.


Continuing in outer space, local theatre company Grid Iron presents a new interactive, site-responsive promenade performance. Leaving Planet Earth departs from the Edinburgh International Conference Centre to an "otherworldly" setting on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

In 1964 in New York Sir John Gielgud directed Richard Burton in Hamlet. Their decision to film the performance with 17 cameras and broadcast into 2000 cinemas over two days anticipates today’s trend, in a new form they called ‘Theatrofilm’, made possible through ‘the miracle of Electronovision’. The Wooster Group remixes the original footage juxtaposed with live performance to channel the ghost of that legendary performance.

Samuel Beckett’s writings broadcast by the BBC in the 1950s produced seminal performances still popular today. Gate Theatre Dublin and Pan Pan Theatre bring productions originally written for radio, television or novels to the stage including Atom Egoyan’s production of Eh Joe, and All that Fall, Embers, I’ll Go On and First Love.

Film, poetry, music

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jean Cocteau’s death, the Philip Glass Ensemble will perform Glass’s score to Cocteau’s film La Belle et la Bête.

Philip Glass appears two nights later with Patti Smith in a homage to Allen Ginsberg, The Poet Speaks.

Meredith Monk returns to the Festival with her ensemble and distinctive sound world in her new work On Behalf of Nature, a poetic meditation on the environment.

Blurring of boundaries

As well as the Philip Glass Ensemble playing to silent film, Chilean theatre company Teatrocinema (Sin Sangre and The Man Who Fed Butterflies) brings its unique style of theatre, which blurs screen and reality in particularly cinematic style, in Histoire d’amour.

Having taken Festival 2011 by storm with his one man King Lear, Master Wu Hsing-kuo returns with the world premiere of his one man adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, incorporating modern technologies into his style of Peking opera for the first time.


Pioneering visual artist Nam June Paik is the focus of another 50th anniversary celebration, that of his first solo exhibition in Wuppertal in 1963. Taking over the Talbot Rice Gallery, Transmitted Live: Nam June Paik Resounds marks the first time the Korean American artist’s subversive media work has been exhibited in Scotland.

The Royal Collection Trust at the Queen's Gallery brings us Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man, which explores Leonardo’s groundbreaking studies of the human body alongside the latest medical imagery, revealing a Renaissance man centuries ahead of his time.

Visual arts hits Edinburgh’s streets as Korean media artist Hyung Su Kim explores new artistic expressions in public spaces through innovative use of LED technology which will be positioned outside the Usher Hall, off Lothian Road and at the Festival Theatre.


Scottish Ballet takes over the Festival Theatre in a four day dance festival within a Festival, Dance Odysseys, celebrating chamber dance with a host of classics, new commissions and contemporary works, talks, films and discussions on stage and throughout the theatre.

This collaboration with Scottish Dance Theatre and the Gelabert Azzopardi Companyia de Dansa, features Christopher Hampson’s Rite of Spring, and world premieres from Édouard Lock, Helen Pickett, James Cousins, Martin Lawrance, Kirsten McNally and Henri Oguike.

Breaking free of Los Angeles’s reputation for dance on celluloid, Benjamin Millepied, choreographer and star of Black Swan, has given the city its first contemporary dance company. L.A. Dance Project makes its UK debut in Edinburgh this summer with works by Forsythe, Cunningham and Millepied’s new work Moving Parts.

Video artist and French choreographer José Montalvo (On Danse, Porgy and Bess) brings his company of tap, flamenco, en pointe, urban and jazz dancers together with acclaimed French comic actor Patrice Thibaud in Don Quichotte du Trocadero, an unexpected, surreal take on Cervantes iconic novel aided by the use of blue screen technology.

Madame Freedom is a fusion of live performance, fantastical filmed imagery and digital technology allowing Korean dancer and choreographer Hyo Jin Kim to explore dance inspired by the classic Korean film of the 1950s Madame Freedom.


New York’s influence on the music programme of the Festival continues to be felt in the world premiere of a new commission from Laurie Anderson in Field Recordings by Bang on a Can All-Stars.

The orchestral works of Frank Zappa are celebrated in a performance by Ensemble musikFabrik, led by superstar percussionist Dirk Rothbrust.

Angel Blue stars as Lulu in Scottish Opera and The Opera Group’s American Lulu, a jazz infused adaptation of Berg’s score by award winning Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth setting the story against the backdrop of the American civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s.

Oper Frankfurt’s double bill Dido and Aeneas and Bluebeard’s Castle directed by Barrie Kosky is described as a "stunning visual and aural experience which plays with psychological space and confinement and beautifully combines intimacy and grandeur".

Christophe Rousset brings the University of Edinburgh’s priceless keyboard collection to life with two concerts at St Cecilia’s Hall featuring the oldest working harpsichords in the world alongside other rare instruments.

Morning concerts at The Queen’s Hall include Nikolai Lugansky, the Chiaroscuro Quartet, Werner Güra, Nachtmusique, Andreas Scholl, Nicola Boud playing four different clarinets in one concert taking audiences on a journey through its evolution, Midori performing two programmes which set Bach alongside Schnittke and Davidovsky’s duo for violin and electronics, Syncronisms No 9, and the Hebrides Ensemble is joined by Thomas Bloch playing Mozart’s music for the glass harmonica.

Cellist Peter Gregson premieres To Dream Again which develops in the venue and then online, where it decays until it can no longer be heard. Cybraphon, the automaton, goes on show at the National Museum of Scotland, responding to social media by playing music which reflects its mood and popularity. Pierre-Laurent Aimard is joined by Italian electronic musician Marco Stroppa for two concerts which present Stroppa’s music alongside Kurtág, Messiaen and Stockhausen.

A series of Cafe Concerts at The Hub showcases young artists from around the world, and highlights the international work of Live Music Now, established in 1977 by the Festival’s Honorary President at the time, Sir Yehudi Menuhin.

Mahler’s second symphony is performed by Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons. Famously sampled in Berio’s Sinfonia audiences will have the opportunity to hear both during the first week of the Festival.

Visiting international orchestras include the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble, Chamber Orchestra of Europe with conductor Yannik Nézet-Séguin making his Festival debut, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra.

The Usher Hall Opening Concert sets the tone with Prokofiev’s film score Alexander Nevsky conducted by the Festival’s Honorary President Valery Gergiev with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Prokofiev’s third piano concerto.

The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert brings the Festival to a close with Musorgsky’s dazzling Pictures at an Exhibition.

Official broadcast partner, BBC Radio 3 brings the Festival to listeners around the UK through 15 live and five future broadcasts of a wide range of concerts from The Queen’s Hall, the Usher Hall and The Hub.

Talks and discussions

A series of talks and discussions Interfaces highlights moments when change and advances in technology enter our lives and affect them in ways we could never have predicted.

The opening key note address is given by Jon Oberlander, Professor of Epistemics at the University of Edinburgh.

Speakers include social psychologist and radio presenter Aleks Krotoski, digital editor of The Economist Tom Standage, Jesse Schell Distinguished Professor of Entertainment Technology, technology entrepreneur Chris van der Kuyl and others covering topics such as the role of technology in global protest movements, the effect of technology on our relationships, the gamification of design, and how technology might be changing the human brain.

Movements, in association with National Museums Scotland, is a series of talks on music and its development and interaction with other artforms by artists including Brian Eno, Irvine Arditti and Professor Simon Kirby of FOUND.

Special deals

New for Festival 2013, the Young Musicians’ Passport is a pilot scheme in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, offering young musicians free and discounted tickets for all Usher Hall concerts.

Those aged 26 and under are once again able to access £8 tickets to the best available seats on the day of the performance.

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