Edinburgh International Festival to stage month-long short film showcase to mark 75th anniversary

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The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) will stage a month-long online showcase of short film made across the city to help mark its 75th anniversary.

Full-length concerts, backstage music sessions, performances and behind-the-scenes interviews will feature in the ‘At Home’ digital festival.

A Ukrainian soprano, a trio of Gaelic singers, an Australian didgeridoo virtuoso, an Iranian musician and a Scottish indie-rock outfit are all in the line-up.

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The 16 short films, which will be free to watch from anywhere in the world, will be released on different days between October 27 and December 1 on the EIF’s own “At Home” online platform.

They were filmed on and off-stage at venues including the Usher Hall, the Queen’s Hall and Leith Theatre, as well as at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in the Scottish Parliament building, and on the Braid Hills and Salisbury Crags.

The digital programme was commissioned to mark the 75th anniversary of the festival, which is about to enter a new era under its recently-appointed director, violinist Nicola Benedetti.

The line-up includes a series of specially-commissioned short films shot by Glasgow-based production company around Edinburgh.

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They include a performance of “Edinburgh is a Story,” a new poem by the city’s Makar, Hannah Lavery. She performed it live to launch the opening event of this year’s festival, which saw a 15,000-strong audience flock to Murrayfield Stadium.

Pianist and conductor Wayne Marshall was filmed in the great gallery of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra and soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska separately visited the Holyrood Parliament building for their short film, Australian didgeridoo player William Barton performed “The Mother Country” on Salisbury Crags and Scottish Ballet dancer James Garrington took to the Braid Hills.

Indie rock favourites Arab Strap were filmed on stage at Leith Theatre before their EIF performance in August, with Skye piper Brighde Chaimbeul, who also performed in Murrayfield curtain raiser Macro, filming backstage there and Gaelic song trion Sian performing outside the historic venue.

Other short films will feature the full closing concert of the festival, which featured the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the National Youth Choir of Scotland, and Spanish musician Jordi Savall performing with his Hespèrion XXI ensemble at the Queen's Hall.

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Festival chief executive Francesca Hegyi said: “It was so encouraging to see our audiences return to the city’s concert halls and theatres in our 75th year. The anticipation of this year’s festival was high and the artists delivered.

Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery has recorded her new poem 'Edinburgh is a Story' for a new month-long digital festival. Picture: Jess ShurteEdinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery has recorded her new poem 'Edinburgh is a Story' for a new month-long digital festival. Picture: Jess Shurte
Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery has recorded her new poem 'Edinburgh is a Story' for a new month-long digital festival. Picture: Jess Shurte

“Not everyone can make it to our live performances, however, and the At Home programme gives a taste of what we have on offer at the International Festival.

“We couldn’t do this without the support of abrdn, so it’s with great appreciation to them that we unveil this programme.

“It’s available for free and from anywhere in the world, so wherever you are, you can transport yourself to Edinburgh in August.”

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Judith Kynaston, head of global brand at abrdn, the Scottish investment firm that sponsors the EIF’s At Home platform, said: “At Home gives global audiences the opportunity to experience a diverse programme of live performances for free, and we’re excited to continue our association with the world’s leading performing arts festival.”

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