As published by Artmag in April, live performances during this year’s Edinburgh International Festival will be staged in three temporary outdoor pavilions around the capital, designed especially for live performance and to be erected at locations including Edinburgh Park and the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Quad. The programme, launched 11th June, is a wide-ranging selection of exciting concerts, theatre and art, with full regard to social-distancing and other Covid-related health & safety measures, such as shorter performances with no intervals, regular cleaning and contactless ticketing. The Festival will also release a series of free, streamed performances available to a worldwide audience.
Programme highlights, compiled by the Festival on their website, are too numerous to list fully, but include the return of opera with Dido’s Ghost, a reimagining of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas by Belizean-British composer Errollyn Wallen, a new version of Strauss’s comic masterpiece Ariadne auf Naxos conducted by Sir Andrew Davies, and Scottish Opera’s Falstaff – the national company’s first performance in an indoor venue for over a year. A Grand Night for Singing is a staged musical revue of songs from much-loved Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
The dance programme includes Dancing in the Streets, comprising world premieres of original dance works created for film and presented in person by acclaimed international choreographers Gregory Maqoma, Janice Parker, Omar Rajeh and Alice Ripoll.
The National Theatre of Scotland’s Lament for Sheku Bayoh reflects on racism in Scotland today and Medicine, featuring Domhnall Gleeson, makes its world premiere with a funny and profoundly moving play examining social responses to mental health concerns.
Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn makes his International Festival debut with a performance of new material, and musician-singer Laura Mvula, indie folk sister trio The Staves, Kathryn Joseph and many more contemporary music artists perform in a purpose-built outdoor venue in Edinburgh Park. Traditional Scottish music features at its most raw and powerful, with Inverness-born fiddle player Duncan Chisholm, high energy trad trio Talisk, International Festival favourite Karine Polwart and virtuoso kora player Sona Jobarteh, at the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Quad.
Other music highlights include Russian pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja with fresh perspectives on selections including Schubert and Brahms, Egyptian soprano Fatma Said making her Festival debut with Edinburgh-born pianist Malcolm Martineau with Mozart and Spanish songs, and the Zurich-based Gringolts Quartet, led by Russian violin soloist Ilya Gringolts, performing pieces ranging from melancholic to euphoric. The Festival’s artists-in-residence programme includes Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti with her new Baroque ensemble and new solo project, bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff who gives public masterclasses as well as performing with his jazz quartet, and the Chineke! Orchestra – Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically-diverse orchestra. The classical music programme also includes the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vasily Petrenko and featuring Isata Kanneh-Mason, Sir Simon Rattle with the London Symphony Orchestra and Kansas-born vocal superstar Joyce DiDonato, and Walter Scott 250, marking the 250th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott’s birth Malcolm Martineau and friends. A unique series of three concerts, A Great Disordered Heart features outstanding traditional instrumentalists celebrating the connections between Scotland and Ireland. And Alan Cumming, returning to the Festival with his show Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age, is sure to be a major draw.