Reviews & features: International Festival

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War and peace announced as themes for Edinburgh International Festival 2014

18 Mar 2014

Programme highlights includes works involving The Kronos Quartet and Handspring Puppet Company

War and peace, conflict and conciliation are the grand themes being tackled in Jonathan Mills’ final year as director of the Edinburgh International Festival. The 2014 programme, announced today, explores music, dance, theatre and other arts not just…

Eh Joe

5 Sep 20134 stars

Atom Egoyan is a master at work as he brings Beckett from the screen to the stage

Atom Egoyan’s masterful staging of Beckett’s brief 1965 TV play Eh Joe, the first in a trio of the dramatist’s works from Dublin’s Gate Theatre at this year’s International Festival, is a thing of simple, ruthless beauty. Michael Gambon is the sole…

Dance Odysseys at the 2013 Edinburgh International Festival

30 Aug 20134 stars

An immersing four-day journey through dance

Sometimes it's nice to just dip your toe into the Edinburgh International Festival, other times it's fun to dive right in for full immersion. Happily last weekend's Scottish Ballet-led Dance Odysseys allowed audiences to do either, or indeed something…

The Poet Speaks: Homage to Allen Ginsberg - Playhouse, Edinburgh, 13 Aug 2013

30 Aug 20134 stars

Heartfelt tribute from two figureheads of modern American culture

The festival is awash with two-for-one deals, but you’d have to go some to surpass Tuesday night at the Playhouse: not just one colossus of modern American culture on stage but three – classical composer Philip Glass on piano, punk poet and singer Patti…

Don Quichotte Du Trocadéro

30 Aug 20134 stars

A balancing act of dance and physical comedy Edinburgh International Festival

José Montalvo is a choreographer who likes fusion; and as if to make sure we get this idea early on, Don Quichotte's opening solo mixes hip-hop ripples, flamenco wrists, ballet poses and the burlesque humour that will go on to characterise this take on…

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Ensemble MusikFabrik: A Tribute to Frank Zappa - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 28 August 2013

29 Aug 20135 stars

Earthy and soaring concert of outrageously good musicianship to nourish the adventurous concertgoer

It takes a certain effort of imagination to accept that the man who wrote a song called 'Why Does It Hurt While I Pee?' was the greatest American composer of his time, but Ensemble MusikFabrik's A Tribute to Frank Zappa, played with the precision of…

Dido and Aeneas/Bluebeard’s Castle - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 24 Aug 2013

27 Aug 20134 stars

Oper Frankfurt present a contrasting programme of warm, doomed love and psychological nightmare

In combining Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Oper Frankfurt have created a deeply powerful theatrical and musical experience for their audiences. Both productions are provocative but in quite different ways. While Barrie…

Interview: Composer Nico Muhly on his role in artistic collective LA Dance

22 Aug 2013

Collective perform at Edinburgh International Festival 2013

‘New York City is kind of like the Edinburgh Festival in August,’ composer Nico Muhly is explaining. ‘Except it doesn’t quit. There’s so much going on, great stuff – but it can get overwhelming at times.’ Muhly is familiar with that nagging F.O.M.O.

Hamlet

22 Aug 20134 stars

Enthralling reinterpretation of the classic text from the Wooster Group

In 1964 Richard Burton performed Hamlet on Broadway in a production directed by John Gielgud. It was recorded from 17 different camera angles and then broadcast to more than 2000 cinemas across the US, one of the first ‘cinecasts’ of its kind. New…

Acclaimed comic actor Patrice Thibaud teams up with Jose Montalvo for Don Quichotte

21 Aug 2013

The famed Spanish novel is being transformed into a comedic dance piece for the EIF 2013

If he lived in the UK, it’s safe to say Patrice Thibaud would be a busy man each December. An acclaimed comic actor in his native France, Thibaud’s style lends itself perfectly to pantomime – which is why Jose Montalvo’s new show is pulling in audiences…

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Thomas Bloch set for glass harmonica concert at 2013 Edinburgh International Festival

21 Aug 2013

Rare instruments specialist teams up with Scotland's Hebrides Ensemble

‘It looks like a horizontal kebab. But instead of meat, you have crystal glass bowls.’ It’s an odd description for a musical instrument, and what Thomas Bloch is describing is admittedly one of the world’s strangest: the glass harmonica. If a…

Five reasons to love Frank Zappa

21 Aug 2013

The maverick musician is the subject of a tribute by Ensemble musikFabrik at the EIF 2013

1. He was funny Most popular music isn’t funny. Even some of the best wallows in self-pity or angst. Zappa didn’t like wallowing. He wanted to stimulate people, so he makes you laugh. ‘Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me?’, ‘Be In My Video’ and ‘Bobby…

The Edinburgh International Festival 2013 celebrates Samuel Beckett

21 Aug 2013

The strand's highlight is Eh Joe starring Michael Gambon and directed by Atom Egoyan

Beckett at the Festival is a major programme of the Irish author’s TV, radio and fiction works adapted for the stage. Inevitably, given the scale of the project and the affection Beckett commands in theatre, there are impressive names in the lineup…

Profile: Bang on a Can All-Stars perform Steve Reich work at EIF 2013

21 Aug 2013

The contemporary music collective count Steve Reich and Ryuichi Sakamoto among their collaborators

Who are they? Bang on a Can are a music collective based in Brooklyn. It was set up 26 years ago by three composers who were, and still are, dedicated to championing experimental classical music. Their vision was to create an international community of…

Metamorphosis

20 Aug 20132 stars

Narcissistic interpretation of Kafka’s seminal text

The tantalising mixture of traditional Peking style opera, beautiful set design, and multimedia projections by Ethan Wang sounds like a play befitting the International Festivals Art and Technology theme, a special treat for the open-minded enthusiast.

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Five choreographers discuss their contribution to Scottish Ballet's Dance Odysseys

16 Aug 2013

The EIF performance features new works from James Cousins, Martin Lawrance and Kristen McNally

James Cousins Which companies did you dance with before moving into choreography? Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, then as a freelance performer with choreographers such as Marc Brew and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. When did you know that you wanted to…

Husband and wife team YMAP give dance a new look Madame Freedom

16 Aug 2013

Hyo Jin Kim and Hyung Su Kim blend live performance with striking visuals

While some dance shows at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival are going for the stripped back and bare approach, YMAP (Your Media Arts Project) is taking its performance to the opposite extreme. Named after the 1957 Korean film of the same…

Mitsuko Uchida - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Tue 13 Aug 2013

14 Aug 20134 stars

The celebrated pianist performs Bach, Schoenberg and Schumann at the EIF

It doesn't get any more temple-of-high-culture than Mitsuko Uchida at the Usher Hall during the EIF, and everything suggested that tonight was going to obey the wacky rituals of the contemporary classical concert. The Usher Hall itself seemed to have…

Lin Zhaohua production of Coriolanus set for 2013 Edinburgh International Festival

13 Aug 2013

Lin Zhaohua arrives in Edinburgh with his take on Shakespeare's tale of heroism rejected

Although he would challenge any notion that he is an avant-garde director, or that his work has any distinctive style, Lin Zhaohua is no stranger to the sort of controversy and enthusiasm that accompanies any theatre-makers who reject the predictable.

Leaving Planet Earth

13 Aug 20132 stars

The future is filled with promise, but its delivery throws up some awkward truths

Grid Iron has previously demonstrated itself as a master of the site-specific play, with 27 awards in 18 years. Working on a massive scale for the Edinburgh International Festival, their latest show Leaving Planet Earth is a dystopian science fiction…

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Transmitted Live: Nam June Paik Resounds

11 Aug 2013

The artist who brought television to art is celebrated during the Edinburgh International Festival

Like so many radical Asian artists of his generation, the original video freak, composer and cultural terrorist / spiritualist Nam June Paikwas born into wealth in 1932. As Korea was being defiled by Japanese occupation in preparation for the…

Meredith Monk: A handy CV break-down of one of America’s most distinctive composers

11 Aug 2013

Composer brings new work On Behalf of Nature to 2013 Edinburgh International Festival

Meredith Monk is renowned for works which combine vocal-led music with elements of theatre, dance and performance art. As she has said, ‘I work in between the cracks, where the voice starts dancing, where the body starts singing, where theatre becomes…

Media Skins

11 Aug 2013

Open-air intervention transforms public spaces

As technology makes the global village ever more accessible, so cross-cultural international collaborations proliferate at an ever increasing speed. So it is with Korean artist Hyung Su Kim's large-scale open-air interventions, which take two major…

Ten things you might not know about . . . Philip Glass

1 Aug 2013

Learn more about the greatly talented US composer in town for the EIF

Before he performs a Ginsberg tribute with Patti Smith, and scores a black and white film of La Belle et La Bete in the EIF, we remind ourselves of the many reasons why we love US composer Philip Glass. Just don’t call him a minimalist 1. He was a…

Space-age spin on Beethoven’s Fidelio set for 2013 Edinburgh International Festival

1 Aug 2013

Media artist Gary Hill's version of Fidelio for Opéra de Lyon visits Edinburgh

Beethoven has been sent to outer space. This version of his Fidelio sees singers on Segways, wearing gleaming metallic spacesuits, while intricate 3D animations swirl across the stage. Could this be the future of opera? American media artist Gary Hill…