Edinburgh International Festival Announces Music and Opera Programme

Susanna Mälkki will conduct the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo: Chris Lee)

Edinburgh International Festival Announces Music and Opera Programme

This year's event is Fergus Linehan’s last as festival director before violinist Nicola Benedetti takes up the role in October 2022.

Edinburgh International Festival has announced the programme for this year’s event. The festival is now in its 75th year and is taking place from 5 to 28 August. Over 160 performances will be presented in 14 venues across the city, with a programme spanning music, theatre, dance, film and talks, as well as a selection of free events. This year is also Fergus Linehan’s last as Festival Director before Nicola Benedetti takes up the role in October 2022. 

The music programme includes a variety of events across classical, opera, traditional, jazz, rock and pop. There will also be a series of events titled Refuge, created in collaboration with the Scottish Refugee Council, to explore themes of refugeehood, migration, identity and inclusion. The series also pays tribute to the festival’s first Artistic Director Rudolph Bing, who was a refugee of war in Europe. 

On 18 August, the London Symphony Orchestra will perform under conductor Sir Simon Rattle, a concert including the world premiere of British composer Daniel Kidane’s new piece Precipice Dances, co-commissioned by the festival. The Chineke! Chamber Ensemble will perform at Edinburgh’s The Queen’s Hall on 12 August with didgeridoo virtuoso and composer William Barton. The concert will feature the European premiere of Barton’s piece The Rising of Mother Country along with a selection of works by Mendelssohn, William Grant Still, Valerie Coleman, and Deborah Cheetham. 

Egyptian soprano Fatma Said makes her European festival debut with pianist Malcolm Martineau in a filmed performance that features works by Mozart, Lorca and Falla. The performance is free to view and available to watch on the festival’s YouTube. Also in the classical music programme is a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra with conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and violinist Lisa Batiashvili who will perform Florence Price’s First Symphony – which, at the time of its premiere in 1932, was the first piece by a Black woman composer to be performed by a major US orchestra. There will also be a series of intimate morning recitals at the Queen’s Hall that will feature performances by mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter with American string quartet Brooklyn Rider (10th), and Golda Schultz accompanied by pianist Jonathan Ware in a programme that explores her favourite female composers (17th). 

Also performing are the BBC Singers (9th), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (15th), Dunedin Consort (16th), Australian World Orchestra (19th), Hebrides Ensemble with Brett Dean (20th), Bruce Liu (22nd), the Czech Philharmonic (20th and 21st), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (27th), and more.

Traditional, folk, jazz, and indie
Martin Hayes and the Common Ground Ensemble will perform at the festival on 16 August. The band is Hayes’ latest project and includes musicians from an array of genres including pianist Cormac McCarthy, cellist Kate Ellis, guitarist Kyle Sanna and bouzouki, harmonium and concertina player Brian Donnellan. On 18 August, early-music performer Jordi Savall and his ensemble Hespèrion XXI will perform The Book of the Science of Music – a programme of 18th-century music from Istanbul’s Islamic, Sephardic and Armenian traditions.

Also performing at the festival are American jazz pianist Herbie Hancock (7th), electronic act Squarepusher (13th), New York rapper Princess Nokia (17th), indie-rock duo Arab Strap (19th), spoken word artist and rapper Kae Tempest (20th), Chicago singer-songwriter Ezra Furman (23rd), and indie singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus (25th).

In opera, Donald Runnicles conducts a concert performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio, featuring American tenor Clay Hilley and Irish soprano Jennifer Davis, Garsington Opera and the Philharmonia Orchestra present Dvořák’s Rusalka with Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw in the title role, and conductor Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra present Strauss’ Salome featuring Swedish soprano Malin Byström.

Commenting on his final festival as director, Linehan said:

2022 is a special year for the Festival. We hope that it will mark a turning point in the pandemic that has changed all our lives over the past two years. It is our 75th Anniversary and an opportunity to pay tribute to our first Artistic Director, Rudolph Bing, a refugee of war in Europe. And it is my final year as Festival Director as we hand the reins over to a new generation. Edinburgh is more than a collection of performances, it is the great annual meeting point for artists and all those who love music, theatre, dance, and literature. We hope you will join us once again for this unmissable celebration.

 For further information and tickets, visit: www.eif.co.uk/whats-on

Published on 31 March 2022

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