Edinburgh International Festival announces digital series for 2020

Edinburgh International Festival announces digital series for 2020

credit: Ryan Buchanan

EIF's My Light Shines On features original digital content in partnership with Scottish artists and national arts companies

Though we've entered August without the usual flurry of programme launches and premieres due to the cancellation of the Edinburgh Festivals, many have announced virtual programmes to keep audiences entertained and connected in place of physical events in the city. The Edinburgh International Festival is the latest to make such an announcement, with a series of video works and light installations planned to celebrate the spirit of our Festival City.

In partnership with Scottish artists and national arts companies, My Light Shines On features original performances that have been filmed inside venues such as the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, The King's Theatre, Leith Theatre, The Hub, Usher Hall and The Queen's Hall, with the films to premiere on EIF's YouTube channel on Saturday 8 August. All activity will officially launch at 9.30pm, with 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. Watch the film on BBC Scotland TV and the International Festival's YouTube channel, as EIF marks what would have been the opening of the 2020 festival.

Highlights from the programme 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. Elsewhere, Scottish Opera present a modern-day interpretation of Gian Carlo Menotti's The Telephone filmed in the bar of the King's Theatre, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra performs a rich programme in celebration of Mahler's 160th birthday, led by Music Director Thomas Søndergård, and Scottish Ballet unveil a series of films including new work from emerging choreographer Nicholas Shoesmith, as well as a revival of acclaimed American choreographer Helen Pickett's Trace. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra will also be in on the action, with a performance of Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto with acclaimed pianist Paul Lewis in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth.

Aside from the series of films, My Light Shines On will feature an outdoor light installation by Scottish lighting designers Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes 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 on Sat 8 Aug. 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.

Other artists that will be making appearances in the digital programme 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, there are plenty more delights to enjoy, as activity continues online and in the city. Every lunchtime from Monday to Friday, there will be a 40-minute specially recorded chamber music performance in Princes Street Gardens, allowing socially distanced audiences to enjoy the music whilst having a picnic or taking a walk. The Edinburgh Festival Chorus also appear on the programme, with a brand-new recording of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, performed and recorded from the homes of over 120 choir members. And the Festival's archives will be 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.

The Edinburgh International Festival will also be holding Artists in the Age of Covid – a range of digital conversations for the global performing arts industry, hosted virtually in partnership with The Edinburgh International Culture Summit between 8–15 August, as well as platforming a work from Festivals for Compassion, in which festivals around Europe come together in recognition of the difficulties they face as a result of COVID-19.

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director at Edinburgh International Festival said: 'For the first time since lockdown, orchestras, ballet companies, traditional musicians, theatre ensembles and designers have come together to perform in and light up the venues they love. This has been achieved with great care to ensure the safety of all involved. It represents a cautious but essential step towards the re-emergence of the performing arts in our country. The programme of events that we announce today is not so much a curated season as a reunion – it is time for our artists to make theatre together, to play music together, to sing together, to dance together and to light up the skies together.'

Visit eif.co.uk for further information about My Light Shines On and Edinburgh International Festival's summer activity.

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