59 Productions and Anna Meredith create Five Telegrams, this year's EIF Opening Event at the Usher Hall
The Festival's 71st year sees a typically packed classical lineup and a particularly exciting dance programme
Anna Meredith, Akram Khan, Sir Simon Rattle and The West Wing's Anna Deavere Smith are among some of the highlights of the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival programme, which has just been announced. After last year's expansive 70th anniversary edition, the 2018 Festival presents a comparatively slimmed down offering that's, of course, still fairly lavish by an average festival's standards.
Following grand Opening Events at the Usher Hall (2015), Edinburgh Castle (2016) and St Andrew Square (2016), this year's EIF Opening Event will return to the Usher Hall on Fri 3 Aug and feature music by celebrated Scottish composer Anna Meredith. Co-commissioned with 14-18 NOW and BBC Proms, Five Telegrams will be an outdoor digital performance that reflects on 100 years since the end of World War I, and will mark Scotland's Year of Young People. Tickets will once again be free, and booking details will be announced on Mon 25 Jun.
This year, the EIF's now feted contemporary music programme features Edinburgh Playhouse dates for John Grant (20 Aug) and St Vincent (26 Aug). But its main focus will be a new strand at the resurgent Leith Theatre: Light on the Shore is a collaboration with the National Museum of Scotland's landmark exhibition Rip it Up: the Story of Scottish Pop, which opens in June, and celebrates the best of Scottish popular music. Tickets and more details will be released on 2 May, but confirmed acts include King Creosote, Django Django, Mogwai and Karine Polwart. Hidden Door, Celtic Connections and Neu! Reekie! will also have their own nights at Light on the Shore, and Anna Meredith will perform her SAY Award winning albumVarmints at Leith Theatre with the Southbank Sinfonia. Here's more on that.
Anna Meredith / credit: Kate Bones There's some exciting theatre at the EIF this year too, with two productions from Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord; a reboot of David Greig's charming two-hander Midsummer from the National Theatre of Scotland; immersive new show, Home, from American actor and illusionist Geoff Sobelle; and Notes from the Field, a documentary performance from Anna Deavere Smith (The West Wing's Dr Nancy McNally) that takes a closer look at the US justice system and the so-called school-to-prison pipeline.
Some of the EIF's most compelling offerings for 2018 come from its dance lineup. Akram Khan's Xenos marks his final performance in a full-length production; Wayne McGregor's Autobiography is inspired by his own genome sequence; and L-E-V Dance Company's Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar present Love Cycle, a double bill of two works about emotion and obsession.
OCD Love, from L-E-V Dance Company's Love Cycle / credit: Regina Brocke Elsewhere, the opera programme features two Rossini classics – The Barber of Seville and La Cenerentola – and Christine Goerke (currently wowing audiences in the Met Opera's Elektra) joins the Hallé Orchestra and conductor Sir Mark Elder for Wagner's Siegfried.
In a typically busy classical programme, Dunedin Consort and John Butt will bring Handel's Samson; Robin Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra take on Brahms; Cardiff Singer of the World winner Catriona Morison sings Brahms, Schumann and Mahler; and a variety of youth choirs and youth orchestras will perform to mark the Year of Young People.
Bringing world-class arts to the capital since 1947, the EIF sets the standard for classical concerts, opera, dance and theatre, while it's recently also added an excellent contemporary music strand. Already confirmed for 2019 is Ian McKellen who will perform a series of highlights from his remarkable career.