Edinburgh International Festival announces 71st programme

The Edinburgh International Festival unveils its 2018 programme, which will welcome 2,750 artists from 31 nations to perform in Scotland’s capital city.

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Every year, the Festival attracts visitors from all over the world, with audiences this summer expected to travel from over 80 nations to be part of Edinburgh’s global celebration of culture.

The 2018 programme features a mix of some of the very best contemporary artists and ensembles from across world, with highlights set to include a new free, outdoor performance celebrating Scotland’s Year of Young People and marking the centenary of the end of the Great War.

The Standard Life Aberdeen Opening Event: Five Telegrams is a unique collaboration between Anna Meredith, one of Scotland’s most exciting contemporary composers, and Tony Award-winning artists 59 Productions. Inspired by communications found in the Imperial War Museum which document the experience of young soldiers at the end of the War, the piece explores ideas of propaganda, censorship and technology, and their startling resonance across 100 years to the present day. Five Telegrams comprises a new work for orchestra, projected digital artworks on the Usher Hall and is experienced by the audience from Festival Square.

For the first time in thirty years, the International Festival returns to Leith Theatre for a special season called Light on the Shore, which celebrates the remarkable variety and collaborative nature of Scottish popular music. Today’s launch sees part of the season announced, with full programme information and details on how to book tickets released on 2 May 2018. The season comprises three strands - Bands and Solo Artists in concert, Orchestral ensembles re-imagining ground-breaking Scottish albums, and Scottish curators creating unique festival experiences. Bands and solo artists appearing in concert include Mogwai, Karine Polwart with her Scottish Songbook, King Creosote and Django Django.

In 2018 the International Festival shines a light on young artists and features over 600 young musicians from 50 nations in performance at the Usher Hall. A new initiative - Free for Under 18s in 2018 - invites young audiences to enjoy these concerts free of charge.

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The world’s foremost classical musicians gather once more in Edinburgh with 48 concerts and recitals in the Usher and Queen’s Halls, and the Festival Theatre Studio. Visiting orchestras include the London Symphony Orchestra with new Music Director Sir Simon Rattle, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra making its International Festival debut, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker, The Hallé, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. 

The International Festival is brought to a spectacular conclusion on Monday 27 August with the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert. Over 400,000 fireworks will burst into the sky above Edinburgh Castle, choreographed to live music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra led by conductor Clark Rundell.

A special selection of music by Leonard Bernstein begins the evening, celebrating the centenary of his birth in 1918. After a short interval, music from Gustav Holst’s The Planets accompanies the incredible display of fireworks above Edinburgh Castle.

Ahead of the Fireworks Concert, for the fourth consecutive year a Schools Concert takes place at the Ross Theatre in Princes St Gardens on the morning of Monday 27 August, with school children from across Edinburgh invited to hear live music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The International Festival continues to offer great value for young ticket buyers aged 18 and under, with a 50% discount available for under 18s and students in full-time education on selected events from the opening of ticket sales. During August, £8 tickets are available for those aged 26 and under on the day of performance. And as part of the Festival celebration of young classical talent in Scotland’s Year of Young People, a new initiative - Free for Under 18s in 2018 - invites young people to attend youth ensemble concerts completely free of charge.

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director said: "One of the joys of working in the Festival is the opportunity to welcome the world to our country and to our city – and then to have a great party! In 2018 there is a particular emphasis on working collaboratively both with Scottish based artists and ensembles and with our international partners to make work from all over the world. We are celebrating different cultures, showcasing Scottish culture, and telling many stories through many different languages."

Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener, said: "Every year, the International Festival is a celebration of people coming together from and a celebration of Edinburgh. This city has shaped the Festivals since their beginnings and in many ways, the Festival City is a gift to the world from the people of Edinburgh and Scotland.

"That is why I am pleased to see this year’s programme celebrate the city and feature our local communities and young people so strongly. With 2018 marking the Year of Young People, they really are the stars of the show and will participate in the free, opening event, Five Telegrams. These mass participation events have been a great success, and this year’s marking the centenary of the end of the Great War is not to be missed. And by bringing the nearby Leith Theatre into the International Festival programme for the first time in many years, a host of live music events will find a new home as part of Light on the Shore.  

"With such a mix of community events and Scottish artists, and a very international programme of opera, dance and theatre from all over the world, this looks like it’s going to be one of the most exciting Festival programmes yet."

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