City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Festival 2019: Rocking Leith and Rousing Tynecastle


By edg - Posted on 27 March 2019

EIF 2019 launch - dancer

The Edinburgh International Festival today launched its 2019 programme of dance, theatre, and music for this August.

Quality not quantity is the watchword with this the flagship summer festival, yet it still packs in 293 performances of 93 events between 2nd and 26th August with 2600 artists appearing from 40 nations.

Introducing the programme Fergus Linehan, Festival Director, Edinburgh International Festival said:

“At the end of the first Edinburgh International Festival in 1947, conductor Bruno Walter wrote that the Festival has succeeded because ‘it was of the utmost importance and most to be desired that all the ties, which had been torn, should be re-united’. The 2019 International Festival launch is framed against a backdrop of division and confusion. With artists and audiences from all over the world gathering to celebrate each other’s music, theatre, dance and art, we hope that the 2019 International Festival will offer a refreshing dose of generosity, inclusiveness and optimism”.

The festival opens with a crowd-pleaser: the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra, led by renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, will perform a free concert for 15,000 people at Tynecastle Park of popular Hollywood movie music (Star Wars, Harry Potter, E.T.). The Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event will feature epic movie music from the Golden Age of Hollywood by Korngold, Herrmann, Waxman and several John Williams soundtracks. Free tickets are available from 1st July.

This is a departure from previous years which saw free, animation and light shows - in 2018 the EIF opened with Five Telegrams, and in 2017 it was Bloom.

The Festival follows up on the success of last year’s contemporary music series "Light on the Shore", with concerts that will have many rock fans salivating. Among luminaries coming to the Leith Theatre are Jarvis Cocker, Anna Calvi, Kate Tempest, Neneh Cherry, Sharon Van Etten and Teenage Fanclub.

Stephen Fry comes to the International Festival for the first time performing Mythos: A Trilogy, three performances based on his best-selling book that bring to life the classic stories of ancient Greece.

A contemporary operatic adaptation of Lars von Trier’s devastating film Breaking the Waves by American composer Missy Mazzoli will be presented for the first time in Europe by Scottish Opera and Opera Ventures and National Theatre of Scotland bring Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road to the Festival.

On the international theatre side, acclaimed theatre company 1927 bring the European premiere of Roots to the Festival, a blend of cinema, visual theatre, animation and live music.

One of the more off-beat elements in International Festival 2019 is Night Walk for Edinburgh, where Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller conceive of a parallel city, with a one-on-one video walk through Edinburgh’s Old Town (25 July-25 August).

The Festival is a time for retrospectives and in 2019 Sir Ian McKellen will be recalling seminal moments from his career. Meanwhile, a special series of five concerts will celebrate the career of Sir James MacMillan at 60.

The festival closes as always with a 400,000-strong fireworks display above Edinburgh Castle on Monday 26th August. Edinburgh-born mezzo soprano Catriona Morison joins the SCO for a selection of vocal and orchestral music from Bizet’s Carmen, before the fireworks, with the SCO playing Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila Overture, Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique as musical accompaniment for the fireworks part of the show.

Booking for the EIF opens at 10am on Saturday 6 April.

More highlights of the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival

  • Peter Gynt starring Scottish actor James McArdle (The James Plays, Angels in America, Mary Queen of Scots), in a new version by David Hare after Henrik Ibsen, directed by Jonathan Kent, in a major co-production with National Theatre of Great Britain
  • Two of Berlin’s opera houses visit Edinburgh: Komische Oper Berlin return to the Festival with the much-loved Tchaikovsky opera Eugene Onegin, created by the company’s Director Barrie Kosky and featuring soprano Asmik Grigorian; and Scottish conductor Donald Runnicles leads his Deutsche Oper Berlin in a concert version of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, starring American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky
  • An extensive opera in concert programme with all-star international casts including the final instalment of the International Festival’s Ring cycle, Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, led by US soprano Christine Goerke; Puccini’s widely-loved Manon Lescaut with soprano Sondra Radvanovsky in the titular role; and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, featuring British countertenor Iestyn Davies
  • A new version of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring by Chinese choreographer Yang Liping and Oscar-winning designer Tim Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and the world premiere of Scottish Ballet’s The Crucible, the centrepiece of the company’s 50th anniversary season
  • A special series of five concerts celebrates the career of Scotland’s most internationally renowned composer Sir James MacMillan in his 60th birthday year, culminating in the world premiere of his Symphony No.5 Le grand inconnu. Supported through the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund
  • Sydney Theatre Company’s multi award-winning staging of Kate Grenville’s novel The Secret River, which takes an unflinching look at Australia’s dark history
    Two concert performances of West Side Story with an international cast and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner
  • You Are Here is a new season of theatre, dance and music, which offers audiences the opportunity to travel the globe in the company of artists whose performances give us fresh perspectives and insights into the world around us, asking where we are and where we are going. Artists include Serge Aime Coulibaly (Burkino Faso), Ifeoma Fafunwa (Nigeria), Robert Softley Gale (Scotland), Milo Rau (Switzerland), Oona Doherty (Northern Ireland) and Marcel Khalife (Lebanon)