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Edinburgh International Festival 2017 Programme Announced

Published: 15 Mar 2017

Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh International Festival today unveiled its 2017 programme which marks the event’s 70th anniversary. This year’s International Festival runs from Friday 4 to Monday 28 August, welcoming 2,020 artists from 40 nations to perform in Scotland’s capital city.

Unveiling his third International Festival programme, Director Fergus Linehan revealed a mix of world-class talent from across the performing arts, featuring the very best contemporary artists and ensembles. Major artists include British bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, singer-songwriter Jarvis Cocker, world-renowned conductor Riccardo Chailly, playwright Alan Ayckbourn, Sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar, Australian chanteuse Meow Meow, violinist Nicola Benedetti and Mercury Prize winner PJ Harvey.

Companies and ensembles include The Old Vic Theatre Company, revered Italian opera house Teatro Regio Torino, world-leading dance company Nederlands Dans Theater, the orchestra of Milan’s world-renowned opera house La Scala Filarmonica della Scala, and a celebration of the music of psychedelic-folk legends The Incredible String Band.

In a special season, leading Scottish theatre companies the Citizens Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre and the Traverse Theatre Company present works which consider the origins of European drama from a contemporary perspective. Each examines, in different ways, the fragility of human relationships, society and civilisation. The work of Edinburgh-based playwright Zinnie Harris underpins all three productions: Oresteia: This Restless House from the Citizens Theatre, a reimagining of Aeschylus’s 2,500-year-old drama; an new adaptation of Eugène Ionesco’s comment on the rise of extremism, Rhinoceros from the Royal Lyceum Theatre with DOT Theatre of Turkey, and the world premiere of new work Meet me at Dawn from the Traverse Theatre Company.

The International Festival was established in 1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War to ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’ through a shared celebration of artistic excellence and cultural exchange. The 2017 programme celebrates 70 years of outstanding virtuosity and innovation, and explores how the Festival’s founding ideals still resonate in today’s uncertain world.

Standard Life Opening Event, Bloom. 59 Productions

The International Festival begins with a free, public outdoor event on Friday 4 August. The Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom is a large-scale art event that celebrates the explosion of colour, vibrancy and optimism that supported the arrival of the International Festival in 1947, and its subsequent cultural influence in Edinburgh and the rest of the world.  The event brings together illuminations and projections in a central Edinburgh location produced for the third year by 59 Productions, creators of the acclaimed Harmonium Project and Deep Time.

The Divide

Theatre highlights include The Old Vic – which performed at the first Festival in 1947 and often over the first decade - with a world premiere from one of the country’s best-loved playwrights Alan Ayckbourn. The Divide is a darkly satirical love story is presented in two parts at the King’s Theatre over two weeks. The Divide follows recent International Festival co-productions which enjoyed great success in Edinburgh before being seen extensively including The Encounter on Broadway and at festivals around the world and The Glass Menagerie now on stage in London’s West End and recently nominated for 7 Olivier Awards.

PJ Harvey, photo: Maria Mochnacz

The contemporary music programme features artists including singer-songwriter and Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker with Chilly Gonzalez, The Magnetic Fields, Mercury Prize winners PJ Harvey and Benjamin Clementine, Sitar star Anoushka Shankar and a celebration of the music of Edinburgh’s own The Incredible String Band.

Australian chanteuse and Edinburgh favourite Meow Meow presents Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid, in a subversive re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. This shimmering ‘underwater’ cabaret is staged nightly at International Festival HQ The Hub, throughout August.

An expanded opera programme presents works from all ages and for all appetites. The nine operas will appeal to both seasoned fans and opera newcomers alike. Highlights include classic operas Puccini’s La bohème, Verdi’s Macbeth, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, while concert performances in the Usher Hall feature world class singers including Sir Bryn Terfel, Christine Goerke, Stuart Skelton, Erin Wall and Karen Cargill.

Macbeth, Fracolannino Studio camera

World-leading orchestras visiting this year’s Festival include the Filarmonica della Scala with Riccardo Chailly, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Edward Gardner, the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder, the Philharmonia Orchestra with Sir Andrew Davis and the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Music Director Ivàn Fischer.  World-leading soloists include Nicola Benedetti, Joshua Bell and Mitsuko Uchida.

One of the world’s greatest dance companies, Nederlands Dans Theatre, returns to Edinburgh after an 11 year absence, and hip-hop lands at The Lyceum Theatre with East London’s Boy Blue Entertainment. Boy Blue also performs at Castlebrae Community High School which is turned into a performance venue for the first time, the culmination of a three-year residency between the International Festival and the school. Senior pupils have been learning about the skills required to run an event venue and will support the Festival team to deliver the performances.

The International Festival will once again be brought to a spectacular conclusion on Monday 28 August with the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, when over 400,000 fireworks will burst into the sky above Edinburgh Castle, choreographed to live music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The International Festival also continues to offer great value for young ticket buyers aged 18 and under, with a discount of 50% available on selected events from the opening of ticket sales. Students in full time education are entitled to a discount of 30% from 5 July onwards, with £8 tickets available for those aged 26 and under, on the day of performance.

Tickets for International Festival performances go on sale in a priority period to Festival Friends and Patrons on Saturday 18 March, with public sales going live at 10am on Saturday 25 March. A range of prices are available across the programme, with tickets starting from just £6.

Scotland remains a fitting home for this important event, which every year transcends borders and inspires hearts and minds.- Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director said: ‘‘Since 1947, the International Festival has extended an invitation from the people of Scotland to people all over the world, to join us in celebrating the unparalleled creativity and talent that great artists bring to Edinburgh. In our 70th anniversary year, it feels more important than ever perhaps, that we celebrate the founding values of the International Festival and that through a shared celebration of artistic excellence and cultural exchange, we ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’ and to continue to welcome the world to our city”

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs: “The Edinburgh International Festival has entertained, delighted and provoked audiences for 70 years, helping to shape Scotland’s identity as progressive, welcoming and world-renowned in its delivery of high-quality arts. Countless countries have followed our example ever since to develop their own festivals.

“As in 1947, the International Festival’s inclusive ethos towards international artists and audiences is just as important and relevant today. This year, the Scottish Government’s EXPO fund will support local theatres and scriptwriters to examine the origins of European drama, a timely theme considering the discourse taking place in many European countries right now. Cultural expression is more important than ever in times of economic or political uncertainty.”

Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland said: “The 70th year of the Edinburgh International Festival feels more vital than ever before. The festival was designed to 'provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit' through bringing people together to celebrate different cultures from across the world through high quality artistic experiences. Scotland remains a fitting home for this important event, which every year transcends borders and inspires hearts and minds.

“This year’s programme ranges from the unique chance to see Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rain to the debut of Mercury Music Prize winner Benjamin Clementine, the premiere of a new Alan Ayckbourn play and a staging of Verdi’s Macbeth, the very first opera to be performed at the inaugural festival all those decades ago. 

“Scottish talent is woven into the heart of the festival, as our theatre companies, orchestras and ensembles take centre stage alongside singular talents such as Martin Creed, Nicola Benedetti and Jackie Kay. This is a very special programme indeed in a very important anniversary year."

Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh's Festivals and Events Champion, said: “This summer, the world’s greatest artists and ensembles will descend on our capital to celebrate the 70th anniversary of one of the biggest arts festival in the world – our Edinburgh International Festival.

“The Council and the city has championed the Festival since its inception in 1947. Seventy years later, the event continues to bring thousands of people together from all over Scotland and the world in a celebration of the arts and culture.

“From opera to the Old Vic, Joshua Bell to Jarvis Cocker, the 2017 programme will feature 2,020 artists in a diverse mix of music, dance and theatre. It could just be one of the most pioneering programmes yet.

“I am delighted we are this year providing additional financial support to mark the milestone year, which will also see a new generation of Festival fans showcase their very own performance venue. Pupils from Edinburgh’s Castlebrae Community High School will support the Festival team to deliver a world-class venue at their school, presenting a brand new hip-hop show. Don’t miss it.”

Tickets for all events at the International Festival go on sale on Saturday 25 March at 10am, unless signed up for staggered priority booking, which opens on Wednesday 15 March at 10am.

View the full programme at eif.co.uk


Media Contact: Liz Wallace, Media Relations Manager, 0131 473 2020 / 07708 795 320 / liz.wallace@eif.co.uk

Join the conversation – #edintfest / @edintfest

Notes to editors

Edinburgh International Festival

  • The Edinburgh International Festival is an unparalleled celebration of the performing arts and an annual meeting point for peoples of all nations. Committed to virtuosity and originality, the International Festival presents some of the finest performers and ensembles from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre for three weeks in August.
  • The International Festival continues to attract people both locally and from across the globe, with audiences from 84 nations attending this year as part of the global cultural celebration in Edinburgh.
  • Investment in the International Festival brings thousands of visitors to the city and generates hundred of millions for the economy of Edinburgh and Scotland.

Thank you to all our 2017 International Festival supporters

The core investment that the Edinburgh International Festival receives from the City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland plays a critical role in ensuring our stability and success.

Crucial support from other public sector bodies, charitable funds, the corporate sector, international partners and agencies, trusts and foundations and our individual benefactors, patrons and friends is also vitally important in enabling us to maintain the Festival’s scale and quality.

The Edinburgh International Festival receives core grant support from The City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland. Scottish Charity Number SC004694.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com. Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland