It may only be mid-March, but Edinburgh is already gearing itself up for August and the manic festival season.
Today the programme for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) was announced by new director Fergus Linehan.
— WOW247 Edinburgh (@WOW247edinburgh) March 18, 2015
While opera, ballet and classical music still play a big part in EIF, the festival has opened its arms to the world of pop (in the pop culture and pop music sense) for 2015.
If you fancy dipping your toe into one of the world’s most famous culture festivals for the first time, here are our top ten shows and events to make time for.
The Harmonium Project
This year’s opening extravaganza is an outdoor half hour-long event in Festival Square, during which a series of animations will be projected onto the side of the Usher Hall. These awe-inspiring visuals will be accompanied by John Adams’s equally stunning choral work Harmonium. Setting the tone for the rest of the festival, this quirky display is sure to be remembered for years to come.
Fri 7 Aug, free, Festival Square, Lothian Road, EH3 9SR – more info
Directed by Belgian theatre maestro Ivo van Hove – who made his British debut at EIF back in 1998 – Antigone is the story of a Theban noblewoman (played by the Oscar-wielding Juliette Binoche) fighting to give her late brother the honourable burial he deserves. Don’t let the mention of ancient Greek theatre put you off, as Anne Carson’s new translation breathes fresh life into Sophokles’ tragedy.
Sat 8 – Sat 22 Aug (except Mon 10 and Mon 17), from £17, King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street, EH3 9LQ – more info
All Rise – A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller
Fans of influential 1930s jazz and ragtime composer and performer Fats Waller shouldn’t miss this affectionate tribute to the charismatic pianist. American jazz artist Jason Moran will perform versions of Waller’s classics in contemporary soul and R&B styles, demonstrating just how great the late musician’s vast contribution to modern music was.
Thu 13 Aug, £25, The Hub, Castlehill, EH1 2NE – more info
From Scotland With Love
Originally screened as part of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last summer, EIF are offering you another chance to catch the moving archive footage documentary From Scotland With Love on the big screen. Soundtrack composer Kenny Anderson (otherwise known as Fife folk monarch King Creosote) will perform the accompanying score live alongside nostalgic images of Scotland through the ages.
Fri 14 Aug, £25, The Hub, Castlehill, EH1 2NE – more info
— Citizens Theatre (@citizenstheatre) March 18, 2015
In celebration of Alasdair Gray’s 80th birthday his epic 1981 novel Lanark has been re-imagined for the stage. Gray’s dystopian Glasgow-esque city Unthank and the surreal goings-on there will be brought to life before your eyes. Far more entertaining than SparkNotes for anyone who can’t face all 560 pages of this modern classic.
Sun 23 – Sun 30 Aug (except Wed 26), from £10, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX – more info
FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks)
Both revered in their own right, Glasgow indie band Franz Ferdinand and LA glam rockers Sparks announced last week that they’re joining forces to form supergroup FFS. A studio album and tour are planned for later this year, but first FFS will be performing live at EIF. If their recent YouTube teaser is anything to go by, it looks set to be a theatrical and somewhat bizarre gig that will go down in history.
Mon 24 Aug, from £20, Festival Theatre, 13-29 Nicolson Street, EH8 9FT – more info
Dialogue is everything in script-writing, right? Not in the case of Murmel Murmel. In 2012 German actor and stage director Herbert Fritsch debuted a play that consisted of 178 script pages, lasted one hour and 20 minutes and used just one word: Murmel. Described as “brilliantly choreographed insanity”, Murmel Murmel looks set to be a hilarious yet intelligent slapstick treat. Added bonus – there’s no need for any translation.
Fri 28 -30 Aug, from £12, King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street, EH3 9LQ – more info
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra will perform a score penned by rock musicians Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and Bryce Dessner (The National) along to a film made by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. The theme – as you may have gathered – is the ocean and wave cycles and we are absolutely certain the outcome will be suitably spine-tingling.
Fri 28 Aug, £25, The Hub, Castlehill, EH1 2NE – more info
Indie icon Sufjan Stevens will kick off his latest European tour at EIF, celebrating the release of new album Carrie & Lowell. Named after the artist’s mother and stepfather, the record is the Detroit native’s first in five years and sees him return to his folk roots after a focus on electronica. Stevens also penned the soundtrack for the film Round-Up which will be screened at EIF as part of The Hub Sessions on August 29.
Sun 30 Aug, from £20, Edinburgh Playhouse, 18-22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA – more info
Virgin Money Fireworks Concert
Even if you’ve never attended EIF before, their closing fireworks concert has become an annual tradition for a huge number of Edinburgh residents. This year will be no different, and you can enjoy 45 minutes of stunning, specially choreographed fireworks accompanied by live music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra either from a seat in Princes Street Gardens or a lofty perch just about anywhere around the city.
Mon 31 Aug, from £12.50, Princes Street Gardens, EH2 2HG – more info
Main image: David Edward
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