As soon as one season finishes, we’re on to the next. The temptation in a festival city such as Edinburgh is to think only about the next music commission or the next new play, so it’s particularly important to make time to consider the long-term well-being of the city’s cultural life.
The Dunard Centre, a bespoke venue in the heart of the city, is a gift for the musicians and the music organisations of tomorrow. It is a statement that Edinburgh is not content to relive past glories but is looking to a bright, innovative, and inclusive future.
As he has done in historic sites from Berlin to Venice, Sir David Chipperfield has created a design that is respectful of the New Town while being bold and contemporary.
Ingeniously inserted into an under-used plot just behind Dundas House, the Dunard Centre is a design that will offer thrilling experiences for audiences and optimum conditions for musicians.
Edinburghers and visitors to our city will find themselves wrapped around a generous concert platform in a warm, intimate environment with brilliant acoustics designed by world leaders Nagata.
The Dunard Centre will be a home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a catalyst for programme innovation at the Edinburgh International Festival, and so much more.
Those of us working on the project for the past few years have one thing in common: a love of music. By music we mean classical, jazz, folk, electronic, choral, musical theatre, rock, pop, traditional and styles from West Africa, South Asia and beyond.
This will be a place where people can come together to see agenda-setting performances, with unexpected collaborations and bold programming designed to appeal to audiences of all ages and tastes.
Scotland takes its music seriously, punching above its weight globally in this more than any other art form. Its traditional musicians are an international beacon for the talent and creativity we all enjoy being surrounded by here. Scotland also sits at the top table of classical music, with musicians starring at international institutions like the Metropolitan Opera, and boasts an incredible lineage in electronic music from Boards of Canada through to Hudson Mohawke. We have great bands like Young Fathers and Mogwai, genre-crossing artists like Anna Meredith, great collaborators like Aidan O’Rourke and Karine Polwart.
It’s a point of respect and a gift to those musicians and music-makers to create a space which seeks to celebrate this incredible, diverse talent and looks to build collaborations between musicians and genres, to generate something new and out-of-this-world exciting.
We want the Dunard Centre to sit in a thriving musical ecosystem that celebrates venues from the Usher Hall to Sneaky Pete’s, collaborating with organisations such as Soundhouse and Regular Music and presenting ensembles from the Dunedin Consort to Drake Music. If you love music, we want you to be a part of this journey.
We are hugely fortunate in Edinburgh to enjoy the genius of James Craig, William Henry Playfair and other great architects and planners.
The festival city would not have become a reality without the majesty of our architecture, our ambitious venues, and the foresight of those whose philanthropy made them possible.
We are overdue a contribution to this legacy, to bring us back in line with cities all over the world. The Dunard Centre will, I believe, be a significant addition to this lineage of generosity, imagination, and optimism.
Fergus Linehan, director of Edinburgh International Festival, is co-chair of Impact Scotland, which is responsible for the construction and operation of Dunard Centre