My Light Shines On is the centrepiece of this year’s ‘cancelled’ Edinburgh International Festival. In what the Festival has called an act of optimism and solidarity, a series of video works and light installations across Scotland’s capital will mark the beginning of the festival season, celebrating the enduring spirit of the Festival City. Through a series of digital commissions, the Festival has partnered 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.
A number of videos will premiere on the Festival’s YouTube channel, Facebook Live and BBC Scotland on Sat 8th Aug at 9:30pm – what would have been the opening weekend of the 2020 festival season: a love-letter to Scottish theatre from the National Theatre of Scotland, directed by award-winning filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach, along with Scottish Opera’s modern-day interpretation of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Telephone, filmed in the bar of the King’s Theatre, a one-hour gala film hosted by journalist and TV presenter Kirsty Wark and cellist Su-a Lee featuring 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’s role as the Festival City.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra all perform, and there will be a light installation in Edinburgh’s festival venues, including the Usher Hall, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Bristo Square and the Castle Esplanade. Other artists featured include violist Laurence Power’s world premiere of a piece 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, pioneering folk performers led by fiddler Aidan O’Rourke and Glasgow indie-rock musician Honeyblood.
From 10th – 28th August the activity continues with a chamber music soundscape in Princes Street Gardens each lunchtime from Monday to Friday, with artists including Mark Padmore, Angela Hewitt, Dunedin Consort and the Hebrides Ensemble, which again will be available to view on the Festival’s YouTube channel. Highlights from the concert series will also be broadcast on Classic FM.
The Edinburgh Festival Chorus features 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 the famous masterpiece. There will be change to enjoy a series of five Usher Hall concerts including Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and fifteen concerts from The Queen’s Hall on BBC Radio 3 as part of BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine.
Artists in the Age of Covid is a range of digital conversations for the global performing arts industry, hosted virtually between 8th and 15th August, in partnership with The Edinburgh International Culture Summit, exploring the challenges and opportunities for the performing arts in a post-COVID world.
All Edinburgh’s August festivals feature in 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, helping the school embed outdoor creative arts in the curriculum and delivering a solution to the social-distancing challenges facing schools as they re-open.