Article Source: Edinburgh International Festival
First Published: 4 August 2020 10:19
Updated: 4 August 2020 10:22
Edinburgh International Festival, the world’s leading performing arts festival, today unveils My Light Shines On – a series of video works and light installations across Scotland’s capital to mark the beginning of the festival season and celebrate the enduring spirit of the Festival City.
Through a series of digital commissions, the Edinburgh International Festival is partnering with Scottish artists and national arts companies, spanning the worlds of theatre, music and dance, to film original performances in venues including the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, The King’s Theatre, Leith Theatre, The Hub, Usher Hall and The Queen’s Hall. All films premiere on Edinburgh International Festival’s YouTube channel on Saturday 8 August at 9:30pm.
The films include a personal love letter to Scottish theatre from the National Theatre of Scotland, directed by award-winning filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach and co-conceived with National Theatre of Scotland Artistic Director Jackie Wylie and dramaturg Philip Howard, along with Scottish Opera’s modern-day interpretation of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Telephone, starring Soraya Mafi and Jonathan McGovern, filmed in the bar of the King’s Theatre.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra features mezzo soprano Karen Cargill in a recorded performance led by Music Director Thomas Søndergård in his International Festival debut. The Orchestra performs a rich programme in celebration of Mahler’s 160th birthday. A series of films from Scottish Ballet includes new work from emerging choreographer Nicholas Shoesmith, as well as a revival of acclaimed American choreographer Helen Pickett’s Trace. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra presents Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto with acclaimed pianist Paul Lewis in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.
My Light Shines On also features an outdoor light installation in which Edinburgh’s festival venues, including the Usher Hall, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Bristo Square and the Castle Esplanade, are illuminated by hundreds of beams of light, reaching up into the night sky. Each venue will also be lit from within by glowing lanterns, which shine and pulse behind closed doors, celebrating the people and artists who play a key role in the festival community. Scottish lighting designers Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes have been commissioned to design the project.
As the beacons of light are visible from across the city, Edinburgh residents are encouraged to view the spectacle from their windows or a high vantage point, staying within government distancing guidelines and without gathering in crowds.
On Saturday 8 August 9:30pm, a one-hour gala film hosted by journalist and TV presenter Kirsty Wark and cellist Su-a Lee previews the My Light Shines On activity. This specially commissioned production is premiered on BBC Scotland TV and the International Festival’s YouTube channel to mark what would have been the opening of the 2020 festival. The film features famous faces from festivals across the years, and collaborations with Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, showcasing Edinburgh role’s as the Festival City.
Other artists featured in the International Festival’s digital offering include violist Laurence Power with the world premiere of a composition by Esa-Pekka Salonen, West African supergroup Les Amazones D’Afrique, Declan, a reimagined version of Traverse Theatre’s multi-award-winning Mouthpiece, contemporary folk music group Breabach, a collaboration of pioneering folk performers led by fiddler Aidan O’Rourke and Glasgow indie rock musician Honeyblood.
From 10–28 August the activity continues with a chamber music soundscape in Princes Street Gardens each lunchtime from Monday to Friday. Each 40-minute specially recorded chamber music performance will be audible throughout the gardens, allowing socially distanced audiences to enjoy the music whilst having a picnic or taking a walk. Artists will include Mark Padmore, Angela Hewitt, Dunedin Consort and the Hebrides Ensemble. Videos of the full concert series, recorded behind closed doors in The Hub, will be released on the Edinburgh International Festival YouTube channel. Highlights from the concert series will be broadcast on Classic FM in a special edition of The Classic FM Concert with John Suchet and streamed on the station’s Facebook page. Classic FM is the UK’s most popular classical music station and has the highest Facebook following in UK radio.
The Edinburgh Festival Chorus features in the International Festival’s summer activity with a brand-new recording of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. From their own homes, over 120 chorus members have rehearsed and recorded their parts for two movements of Orff’s iconic masterpiece. The recordings and videos have been mixed together until the unmistakable grandeur of ‘O Fortuna’ and hopeful energy of ‘Ecce Gratum’ are recreated in all their richness. The two films premiere on Edinburgh International Festival’s YouTube channel on 8 August.
Highlights from the Festival’s archives are celebrated by a series of five Usher Hall concerts including Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Verdi Requiem and Cleveland Orchestra with Franz Welser-Möst and Joela Jones. These will sit alongside 15 concerts from The Queen’s Hall between 10–28 August on BBC Radio 3 as part of BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine. The Queen’s Hall Series includes pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly, Trio Zimmermann and Les Vents Français. Full details can be found on the Festival’s website.
Additionally, Edinburgh International Festival is holding Artists in the Age of Covid – a range of digital conversations for the global performing arts industry, hosted virtually between 8–15 August. This series, in partnership with The Edinburgh International Culture Summit, seeks to explore the challenges and opportunities for the performing arts in a post-COVID world. International creatives discuss subjects ranging from the power dynamics exposed by coronavirus, to the relationship between organisations and communities, to artists reimagining the future and collaborations between different artforms to create work suitable for present conditions. Participating speakers include Chief Executive of Eden Court James Mackenzie-Blackman, curator of Glasgow’s After the Pandemic Summer School Graham Hogg, Artistic Director of Melbourne Arts House Emily Sexton, poet and novelist Jenni Fagan and Chief Conductor of Antwerp Symphony Orchestra Elim Chan.
The International Festival is partnering with all Edinburgh’s August festivals to create Faces of Edinburgh Festivals, a collection of portraits and interviews that shine a light on the people who help to transform Edinburgh into the Festival City every summer. This rich pool of stories about the individuals who bring the festivals to life, from performers and technical staff to taxi drivers and business owners, will be on display on posters across the city and on the Festivals Edinburgh website.
The Festival’s Learning and Engagement work continues throughout the summer, including a new partnership with Hermitage Park Primary School to provide an outdoor stage for learning, play and creative exploration. This structure will help to the school to embed outdoor creative arts in the curriculum and deliver a solution to the social distancing challenges facing schools as they re-open.
Additional events appearing in association with the Festival’s summer activity include Night Walk for Edinburgh by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller which sold-out its premiere at last year’s International Festival and now can be safely experienced through its own mobile app, while Edinburgh Art Festival revives Peter Liversidge’s 2013 Flags for Edinburgh, placing flags reading ‘HELLO’ at venues around the city, including at The Hub.
In The New Real, The Edinburgh Futures Institute commissions two digital installations – Mechanized Cacophony from Anna Ridler and Caroline Sinders and Zizi – A Virtual Show from Jake Elwes – that reflect on humanity’s journey into the new real and how we make sense of differing realities. The New Real launches online on 17 October 2020.
Edinburgh International Festival also platforms a work from Festivals for Compassion, in which festivals around Europe come together in recognition of the severe difficulties they collectively face in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Double bassist Nikita Naumov performs a specially composed solo from Greek-Dutch pianist Calliope Tsoupaki, available on the International Festival’s YouTube channel and the Festivals for Compassion website.
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