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​Edinburgh International Festival’s digital programme offers free full-length performances for global audiences

The Edinburgh International Festival At Home in partnership with abrdn digital programme features 18 full length performances available for free throughout 2021, including Gregory Maqoma’s Retrace Retract in Dancing in the Streets. Photo: Moeletsi Mabe

  • ‘Edinburgh International Festival At Home in partnership with abrdn’ digital programme includes 18 full length performances available for free online throughout 2021. 
     
  • The digital programme includes the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Nicola Benedetti, the Chineke! Orchestra, Malcolm Martineau, the National Theatre of Scotland and Talisk.
     
  • Partnerships with BBC Radio 3, Classic FM and Apple Music allow audiences more options to view or listen to the programme from their own home.

For the first time in its 74-year history, the Edinburgh International Festival offers audiences worldwide the opportunity to experience performances from the comfort of their own homes, with 18 full-length performances available to watch for free online. The world’s leading performing arts festival presents its digital programme in partnership with global investment brand abrdn.  

As part of the International Festival’s ongoing commitment to accessibility, many of the performances featured in the digital programme offer audio description, captioning or British Sign Language interpretation. Selected performances from the programme will also be broadcast, streamed or hosted on classical music radio stations BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM and music streaming service Apple Music.  

The International Festival’s digital programme features newly commissioned dance works made for the digital experience as well as classical and contemporary music, opera, theatre and spoken word performances captured during the 2021 festival. The digital programme extends into October and November, providing a global platform for some of the world’s leading artists beyond the festival season. 

Highlights include: 

  • Nicola Benedetti alongside a specially selected ensemble in Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale (online from 26 August). 
     
  • A new production of Ariadne auf Naxosconducted by Sir Andrew Davis with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and featuring German soprano Dorothea Röschmann (29 August). 
     
  • A thrilling musical partnership between Argentinian-born cellist Sol Gabetta, fiery Hong Kong-born conductor Elim Chan and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with repertoire including Saint-Saëns’s First Cello Concerto and Beethoven’s First Symphony (25 November). 
     
  • Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason and Russian-born conductor Vasily Petrenko joining forces with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to perform Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (7 October).  
     
  • The Chineke! Orchestra, conducted by William Eddins, joined by mezzo soprano Andrea Baker for Judith Weir’s song cycle woman.life.song, which features texts from Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Clarissa Pinkola Estes (online from 22 August). 
     
  • Acclaimed Edinburgh pianist Malcolm Martineau and friends celebrating the 250th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott’s birth with a concert inspired by the poet’s famous verse (online from 15 August). 
     
  • Writer and director Hannah Lavery leads an artistic response to the 2015 death in Scottish police custody of Sheku Bayoh in the National Theatre of Scotland’s Lament for Sheku Bayoh (online from 25 August).  
     

Audiences at home will also experience the atmosphere in the Old College Quad with the exhilarating Zehetmair Quartet (14 October), Egyptian soprano Fatma Said accompanied by Malcolm Martineau (4 November) and a fast-paced, genre-bending performance from folk sensations Talisk (11 August). The digital programme also includes a rehearsed reading of You Bury Me (17 August) written by Ahlam; a panel discussion about women’s playwriting in Scotland chaired by The Guardian’s Arifa Akbar (11 August); and performances from Inua Ellams and Saul Williams in A Toast to the People (28 October), a spoken word series presented in partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  

Dancing in the Streets (20 August) gives audiences an opportunity to travel to the four corners of the world with the premiere of four specially commissioned dance works created for film by critically acclaimed choreographers Alice Ripoll from Rio de Janeiro, Omar Rajeh from Beirut, Gregory Maqoma from Soweto and Janice Parker from Edinburgh. Each of the four choreographers has produced a short film with their dancers responding to the past year and reflecting on their relationship with their home cities. 

The dance programme is completed by a new film of Akram Khan’s Chotto Xenos, available to stream on 14 and 15 August. Inspired by Akram Khan’s solo show XENOS and created by Sue Buckmaster, Chotto Xenos visits the untold stories of colonial soldiers during the First World War.  

The Edinburgh International Festival also partners with major broadcasters to share the return of live performance with a wider audience.  

BBC Radio 3 will broadcast 12 chamber performances from the Old College Quad in its flagship chamber music strand, the Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert; Radio 3 in Concert will feature four evening concerts from Edinburgh Academy Junior School, including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with Marin AlsopJoyce DiDonato with Il Pomo D’Oro and the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra. All BBC Radio 3 recordings are available for 30 days after broadcast on BBC Sounds. 

Highlights of the programme will be broadcast on Classic FM, the UK’s most popular classical music station, on Friday 3 September, alongside video excerpts from five concerts featured on Classic FM’s social media channels throughout August.  

The International Festival is working with Linn Records to release a series of recordings throughout the autumn of 2021, exclusively on Apple Music. These recordings will include A Grand Night for Singing, Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s TaleAriadne auf Naxos and compilations of orchestral and chamber highlights.   

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director, Edinburgh International Festival said:  

“We are looking forward to reuniting artists and audiences once more in Edinburgh this summer, yet we appreciate that some people may not be able to join us in person this year. For the first time in the Festival’s history, we are delighted to offer an extensive programme of digital works for audiences across the UK and around the world to enjoy from home.   

“We are hugely grateful to abrdn for supporting the At Home programme and helping us to offer these extraordinary full-length performances free of charge. We also look forward to working with broadcasters BBC Radio 3, Classic FM and Apple Music to share the experience of the Festival with a wider audience.” 

Simon Bailey, Global Head of Brand Management at abrdn said:  

“We’re delighted to support the Edinburgh International Festival with their Digital Programme for 2021. Offering global audiences the opportunity to experience such a diverse programme of live performances is very exciting. This is a difficult time for the arts, but the Edinburgh International Festival continues to thrill and entertain audiences worldwide and we’re very happy to continue our association.”   

UK Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: 

“I’m hugely impressed by the extensive digital programme Edinburgh International Festival has put together with support from our Digital Accelerator Fund. We launched this fund to help Edinburgh’s Festivals build back better from the pandemic and, thanks to this funding, culture lovers from around the world can enjoy these events again.” 

Visit www.eif.co.uk/at-home for full details of Edinburgh International Festival At Home in partnership with abrdn

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