Nicola Sturgeon has revealed that a leading French orchestra has been invited to perform at the first Edinburgh International Festival to be staged after Brexit.
The announcement was made with festival director Fergus Linehan during a visit to French capital Paris by the First Minister.
She said the visit of the orchestra, its first to the EIF in more than 30 years, would be “the perfect example of the strong cultural links that exist between Scotland and France.”
Ms Sturgeon visited the Philharmonie de Paris concert hall, the home of the Orchestre de Paris, to watch rehearsals and meet representatives of the company, which will stage two EIF concerts at the Usher Hall in August.
The announcement was made ahead of the EIF’s official programme launch next month, which will be staged just days before Britain is due to leave the European Union.
The group, which will be conducted by its Oxford-born music director Daniel Harding, has been invited to perform at the festival a year after a Parisian theatre company, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, was made a company in residence at the event.
The EIF’s track record of playing host to French artists and companies goes back to the very first event in 1947, whan the Orchestre des Concerts Colonne staged concerts.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s fantastic to see the Edinburgh International Festival and France’s largest symphonic orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, joining together for what I am sure will be one of the highlights of the 2019 programme.”
Mr Linehan added: “We’re thrilled to welcome Daniel Harding and the Orchestre de Paris back to the Edinburgh International Festival this August.
“The festival’s relationship with France is strong and long-standing, with leading French artists such as Pierre Boulez and Juliette Binoche, and ensembles including Opera de Lyon and Théâtre du Soleil, having performed here in the past.
“The Orchestre de Paris last visited the festival in 1985, and we look forward to sharing their return with audiences from Scotland and all over the world.”
The festival has already announced that this year’s line-up will include the world premiere of an adaptation of Scots Makar Jackie Kay’s memoir, Red Dust Road, a one-man show being staged by Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen to mark this 80th birthday, and a new production of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, with Mary Queen of Scots star James McArdle cast in the leading role.