Thursday, March 19, 2015

So here's 1927 (theatre company) with an image from - well - they're going to be doing The Magic Flute in conjunction with someone else in the EIF 2015 though I suspect the pic is them doing something else.

Nicola Benedetti on screen when the tech people were testing things out at the set up of the launch event.  

Festival Director (I want his job) Fergus Linehan announcing the programme with Anne-Sophie Mutter on the screen in the background. 

And (below) the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and The Lovely Christopher Bell drawing the proceedings to a close.

I trotted along to this aforementioned event yesterday. I missed the launch last year. In fact, maybe I've missed it for several years. As the last clear memory I have of attending the equivalent was with Ross at the Roxy Arthouse and it was an EIF under Jonathan Mills' jurisdiction and it was impenetrable and just what you'd expect from an EIF. (i.e. obscure, intellectual, THEMED, inaccessible.) 

At yesterday's launch, there was not a theme in sight. It's always struck me that themes horribly hamper any sort of international curation job. When, as Mr Linehan said, you're having to negotiate with a conductor one day about their availability in 2017 and the next, cosset an actor about a yet to be devised piece for five months on, how can you possibly adhere to a theme? So Mr Mills' themes were always, by their nature, loose. And consequently, conceits of the intellect to a large extent. Maybe what EIF audiences yearned and hankered for. But not this one. 

This programme - to my ill-informed eyes - seems like a gloriously riotous combination of stuff that is half populist (Franz Ferdinand) with stuff that is undeniably high art (Sylvie Guillem, Juliette Binoche, Sufjan Stevens, Alice Coot if you know anything about opera which I don't, all sorts of esteemed directors) with stuff that - and here's the rub - looks fun (Davie Grieg's Lanark, a bizarre German thing called Murmel Murmel, the Harmonium Project, 1927's Magic Flute, Anna Calvi and friends and - for a euphoric change, if I had the programme in front of me, I could go on).

If Mr Linehan made a claim to anything, it was the hope that art (and #GreatArtists - smart hashtag!) can change the way you think about the world. "We have to recognise what we need to transform," said Juliette Binoche in a little filmed piece to camera of her role in Antigone.  Which is a great example of the need or value of thinking in a world where it's increasingly unfashionable to consider. Better just to get on and do it do it do it. Reflect and regret later. 

With a programme like this, I suspect a lot of feathers will be ruffled. But the first time in a long time, my feathers are ruffled with something like consternation that this August, I won't be able to physically find time to fit everything in. Good show.


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