Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh International Festival
Photo: eif.co.uk
The Edinburgh International Festival is one of the world's largest performing arts festivals held every August in the capital of Scotland. It is one of about a dozen cultural festivals collectively referred to as the Edinburgh Festival. Other notable festivals held alongside the Edinburgh International Festival include the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The idea of creating an international arts festival in Edinburgh was first conceived by Austrian-born impresario Rudolf Bing and English soprano Audrey Mildmay who met while working on a production of The Beggar's Opera by John Gay for Glyndenbourne Festival Opera. During the Second World War, Mildmay left for Canada, but Bing remained in the UK and began to plan the festival as soon as the war was over.

The inaugural Edinburgh International Festival took place between August 22 and September 11, 1947. It focused mainly on classical music. One of the festival's main highlights was a series of concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic. In Edinburgh, the orchestra reunited with its former conductor Bruno Walter who had left Austria for the United States because of Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938). Over the years, the festival has expanded its program to include other performing arts such as opera, dance and theater.

According to the organizers, the mission of the Edinburgh International Festival is to “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit”. It features world-class performers of music (primarily classical music), opera, dance and theater from around the world. The performers are invited by the festival director. Alongside performances, the festival hosts visual art exhibitions, workshops, talks, and special events.

Since 1999, the Edinburgh International Festival had been headquartered at The Hub. A former parish church and assembly hall located at the top of the Royal Mile, The Hub is a central source of information on all the festivals held in Edinburgh. Other principal venues of the festival include Edinburgh Playhouse, the Usher Hall, the Edinburgh Festival Theater, the King's Theater, the Queen's Hall, and the Royal Lyceum Theater. For three weeks in August, downtown Edinburgh is transformed into a cultural epicenter of performing arts. It presents a wide range of performances from the world's leading artists and showcases the rich culture of Scotland to a wide audience.

One of the oldest and most famous traditions of the Edinburgh International Festival is the annual performance of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus. It was born in 1965. The Chorus consists of 130 singers from across Scotland who come together to learn exhilarating repertoire and perform at the Festival with renowned orchestras and conductors. Anyone can audition for the Chorus but one should keep in mind that members of the Chorus sing to a very high standard.

Edinburgh International Festival

Photo: eif.co.uk



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