Where do we go from here?

Nicola Benedetti leads the Edinburgh International Festival into a new and exciting era. 

IAM explores the unmissable events of her first edition.

Following its 75th anniversary last year, the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) faced a profound, if familiar question, “where do we go from here?” It’s answer? To “deliver the deepest possible experience, with the highest quality performances, to the broadest possible audience”, all under the direction of acclaimed classical musician and new Festival Director, Nicola Benedetti.

Benedetti approached the task with ambition and vigour, inspired by the literature of Martin Luther King Jr. she was keen to explore people’s capacity to unite and the role of the arts in this effort. Each week of the festival explores a different aspect of this overarching question, with three themes underpinning the week’s performances: “community over chaos”, “hope in the face of adversity” and “a perspective that is not one’s own”. By inviting audiences to consider ideas of identity, community and resilience Benedetti hopes that they will play a role in defining the Edinburgh International Festival’s next phase of development.

The theme of community extends to the festival’s programming, welcoming a diverse range of artists from across 48 nations and six continents to perform 295 events. National orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, will be joined by one of Latin America’s greatest orchestra, the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela who will perform music from across the Americas during its residence at the festival. Korean artists will also feature heavily, in celebration of 140 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and the UK. Performances range from the KBS Symphony Orchestra and the Novus String Quartet to a fusion of K-pop and Greek Tragedy in the National Changgeuk Company of Korea’s Trojan Women.

EIF also has a substantial dance offer, including two programmes from America’s most popular dance company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre which will both feature the beloved dance masterpiece Revelations, the most widely viewed modern dance work in the world. The L-E-V Company will also return to the festival for its third instalment of its acclaimed trilogy, Chapter 3: The Brutal Journey of the Heart, featuring striking costumes from Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Creative Director of Christian Dior Couture.

Improving accessibility to the arts was another important element of Benedetti’s vision, keen to attract a diverse audience to the festival that extended beyond the typical demographic. This is reflected in the festival’s programme which will include performances for young people and families and a new series at The Hub, a space for informal in-conversations and performances on the Royal Mile. In line with the EIF’s interdisciplinary approach and varied programming, the festival will also feature numerous performances from the worlds of theatre, opera, contemporary music and music theatre.

With over three weeks of diverse, imaginative and unifying performances, the Edinburgh International Festival is sure to provoke numerous answers to its question “Where do we go from here?”, charting a unique path into its next 75 years.

The Edinburgh International Festival takes place from 4 to 27 August. For more information and to book tickets, visit eif.co.uk