Edinburgh International Festival Embraces Youth at 71

Edinburgh International Festival Embraces Youth at 71


The composer Anna Meredith, shown here at South by Southwest in 2017, is creating the Fringe International Festival’s opening event with the design and technology company 59 Productions.

Carlos Gonzalez for The New York Times

The mature and esteemed Edinburgh International Festival, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last summer, will boldly embrace youth during the opening of the 2018 festival, which will run Aug. 3-27.

“Five Telegrams,” the festival’s opening event, an outdoor presentation of digital art and music, is being created by the eclectic young composer Anna Meredith — a former composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra — and the design and technology company 59 Productions (“War Horse”).

Fergus Linehan, the festival’s director, said in a phone interview Wednesday that “Five Telegrams,” to be presented in Festival Square and including projections on Edinburgh Castle, will also feature a performance element involving 250 young people in the crowd.

Mr. Linehan officially announced the program in Edinburgh on Wednesday evening. In a festival as large and complex as his, with years of planning sometimes required for operas or certain performers (like the soprano Christine Goerke, who will sing Brünnhilde in Wagner’s “Siegfried” this summer), trying to affix a theme to the event “makes it a bit too brittle for my liking,” Mr. Linehan said. Still, outside influences do make their way in.


Geoff Sobelle, building a structure in the play “Home” at the BAM Harvey Theater in December. The work will be presented at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

This year, for example, is the centennial of the end of the Great War. “The end of the first World War is very present in a lot of work in the U.K. at the moment,” Mr. Linehan said. “It was the beginning of universal suffrage and the end of the Empire.” So some works in the festival, like “Xenos,” a new solo piece by the choreographer Akram Khan about a shellshocked colonial soldier — an Indian man fighting on behalf of the British Empire — reflect on this. The anniversary is also represented in “Five Telegrams,” which is partly inspired by soldiers’ telegrams from 1918.

The lineup of youth orchestras from Canada, Scotland and the United States, and other parts of the music program, nod to Scotland’s Year of Young People, an initiative of the Scottish government. “Light on the Shore,” a celebration of Scottish music that will run throughout most of the festival, will showcase more of Ms. Meredith’s music along with electronica, hip-hop, folk and rock by Django Django, Mogwai, King Creosote and others.

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