Edinburgh International Festival 2019



The Edinburgh International Festival 2019 will launch into action this weekend, beginning three weeks of world class opera, theatre, music and dance in Scotland’s capital city, forming part of the world’s largest performing arts festival. We are thrilled to see so many AH artists making appearances throughout the season.

On the concert platform

Edward Gardner, newly appointed as the Principal Conductor Designate of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, returns to this year’s festival on 10 August to lead a performance with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. This concert, and many others throughout the festival, will celebrate the 60th birthday of Sir James MacMillan. Ed will lead the RSNO, Edinburgh Festival Chorus, the RSNO Junior Chorus and The King’s Singers in a performance of MacMillan’s Quickening, a cantata which examines the drama and joy of birth and new life, blending wonder and spirituality with energy and mystery. This will be followed by Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben. Watch the video below to find out more about how MacMillan will be celebrated throughout this year’s festival.

Making her Edinburgh Festival debut, soprano Christina Gansch will join the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Semyon Bychkov for Mahler Symphony No. 4 on 13 August, just two nights after performing Mahler and Schubert at the BBC Proms in London.

Following two critically acclaimed concerts at the 2018 festival, Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra make a return appearance to Edinburgh on 21 August. This year, Simon and the orchestra will perform John Adams’ Harmonielehre followed by Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2 in E minor.

Opening the Usher Hall series, Miah Persson and Anna Larsson will share the stage with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, performing Mahler’s Second Symphony. Renowned for their interpretations of Mahler, Miah and Anna both return to the festival after acclaimed performances in recent seasons.

On the operatic stage

Fresh from her BBC Proms debut, soprano Asmik Grigorian will make her Edinburgh debut on 15 August. Alongside the orchestra and chorus of the Komische Oper Berlin, lead by Music Director Ainārs Rubiķis, Asmik will give two performances of Tatyana in Barrie Kosky’s Eugene Onegin. Watch the video below to hear more about how Asmik is preparing for this production.

Also making his festival debut is Edinburgh-born baritone Duncan Rock, in the European premiere of a new opera from Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, Breaking the Waves, adapted from Lars von Trier’s controversial film. Duncan takes on the central role of oil rig worker Jan Nyman, opposite Sydney Mancasola as his wife Bess McNeill.

Iestyn Davies and Sophie Bevan will sing the respective title roles in a concert performance of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice on 15 August alongside The English Concert and conductor Bernard Labadie. These performances mark the end of triumphant seasons for Iestyn, Sophie and Bernard. Iestyn has most recently enjoyed great success as Ottone in Handel’s Agrippina in Munich and will return to the role at Covent Garden next season in a new production by Barrie Kosky. Sophie has received rave reviews for her recent appearance at Garsington Opera in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. The 2018/19 season has also seen Bernard complete his first year as Principal Conductor of Orchestra of St. Luke’s, most recently leading the ensemble in an “elegant and lively” performance at Zankel Hall in New York.

In recital

Recital programmes are also a vital component of the Edinburgh Festival. Soprano Christiane Karg, accompanied by Gerold Huber, will present a beautiful programme of Schubert Lieder at Queen’s Hall on 21 August, while festival regular Malcolm Martineau will accompany Amber Wagner in a recital of works by Bellini, Strauss, Barber, Ives and Wagner on 14 August.

AH on Tour

Our Tours & Projects Department will also be well represented at this year’s festival, bringing three orchestras to Edinburgh, two for the first time.

After the success of their counterparts, NYO Jazz, at the 2018 festival, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America will make their debut appearance in Edinburgh this year. On 9 August, under Sir Antonio Pappano, the orchestra will present three works demonstrating the orchestra’s eclectic tastes and versatility. The programme will open with Delicate Tension by NYO Apprentice Composer Tyson J. Davis, a work commissioned by the US Embassy of Berlin in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato shall then join the orchestra for Berlioz’ intoxicating song cycle, Les nuits d’été, before the evening draws to a close with Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major.

Contrasting youth with experience, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will also make their Edinburgh debut this year as part of their world tour. Now in it’s 140th year, China’s premier classical ensemble will present a programme championing one of China’s finest contemporary classical composers as well as bringing a unique colour and energy to well known favourites. Maestro Long Yu will lead the orchestra on 19 August, in a programme of Qigang Chen’s Wu Xing (The Five Elements), Dvořák’s seminal Cello Concerto in B minor with Alisa Weilerstein, and Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D minor.

Finally, as part of its European tour the Orchestre de Paris and Music Director Daniel Harding will give two concerts: on 23 August, Daniel will lead the orchestra in Beethoven Symphony No. 6 in F major, and Berlioz Harold en Italie, featuring solo viola player Antoine Tamestit; and the following night, Daniel will be joined by Andrew Staples, Emma Bell and Florian Boesch for Britten’s epic War Requiem.

To find out more about all performances at this year’s festival, check the EIF website.

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