CLASSICAL music has long set the tone for the Edinburgh International Festival.
But from next year rock, pop and folk music are to be added to the programme for the world’s most prestigious arts extravaganza.
New director Fergus Linehan said although orchestral performances would remain at the centre of the festival, he wanted to include more modern music too. And he also announced the dates of the festival would be moved to bring them into line with the Fringe.
Unveiling his vision for the EIF, Mr Linehan, who officially takes over on October, revealed himself as a fan of bands such as Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, King Creosote, Arab Strap, and acclaimed Scottish electronic band Boards of Canada.
He said: “As a 21st century, multi-genre arts festival, it is important that we take a more consistent and comprehensive approach to other musical genres, both to reflect the way that cultural appetites have change and also to reflect where important work is being made.
“Classical music will still be the centre of the programme, there is no dilution of it.’”
The EIF has had the roughly the same dates since 1983, but the Fringe sparked a bitter row in 1998 when it decided to move a week earlier in the calendar to try to attract bigger audiences. The two events had been running together since they were both launched in 1947. Mr Linehan said both events would be staged from August 7-31 next year and would remain in sync for the foreseeable future.
It means the EIF will also coincide with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Edinburgh Art Festival.
The traditional fireworks finale could move from the final Sunday to a Monday night, when both events will now wind up.
Mr Linehan said he wanted to challenge “preconceptions” about the way the festival is organised. He said the date change was designed to protect and bolster the city’s reputation for its unique cultural offering in August, as well as ensure audiences were not left “short-changed.”
Other changes will see the end of “themed” programmes, as they have been under Sir Jonathan Mills.
Mr Linehan also unveiled some of the events which will feature in next year’s festival, including Antigone starring Juliette Binoche and a production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. He said there would be a free opening event to launch his inaugural festival, which may take place in an outdoor location in the city centre, and be built around the 50th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.
The Fringe said it was “very relaxed” about the synchronised dates. Fringe director Kath Mainland said: “The dates for the Edinburgh International Festival are a matter for the EIF to decide, but it is undoubtedly the case that Edinburgh in August provides a blend of world class festivals unrivalled anywhere else.
“We know that it is this combination of distinct festivals that sets Edinburgh apart.”