Edinburgh International Festival: Six shows not to miss

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Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills unveiled another impressive programme for this year’s event, featuring a widely expected link-up with the London Olympics. Here we look at six key shows and events.

2008: Macbeth

Festival director Jonathan Mills announced the EIF programme. Picture: Jane Barlow

Festival director Jonathan Mills announced the EIF programme. Picture: Jane Barlow

One of the headlines from today’s EIF launch was the introduction of a brand new venue at the Royal Highland Centre’s Lowland Hall. Far removed from the conventional theatre space, this offers a whole new theatrical experience, and an ambitious new multi-media version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is among three specially commissioned works for the space. Polish playwright Grzegorz Jarzyna sets his take on The Scottish Play in the Middle East.

NVA’s Speed of Light

On paper it sounds more like a scene from the Tron movie, but every evening of the Festival’s duration will see runners in light suits powered by their own kinetic energy criss-cross Arthur’s Seat, the dormant volcano which dominates the city’s skyline. A natural fit with the Festival’s Olympic partnership, this project from Glasgow company NVA will involve thousands of participatory - and very mobile - audience members.

Since it was the day of preparation…

This new work from James MacMillan, Scotland’s leading composer, will receive its World Premiere at EIF. Performed by the Hebrides Ensemble and Synergy Vocals as part of a series of early evening concerts in Greyfriars Kirk, the Resurrection-based work features the renowned bass Brindley Sherratt as the figure of Christ.

Gulliver’s Travels

Director Silviu Purcarete returns to EIF with Romania’s Radu Stanca National Theatre of Sibiu after his critically acclaimed Faust in 2009. The World Premiere of Purcarete’s take on Jonathan Swift’s satire at the King’s Theatre is a collaboration with Irish folk and rock musician Shaun Davey, and is one of seven performances and productions which form the Festival’s contribution to the London 2012 Festival.

Nicola Benedetti

The Ayrshire-born violinist makes her EIF debut in this series of four concerts from the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Usher Hall. She takes on Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto, the piece of music which won her the BBC Young Musician title in 2004 at the age of 16.

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert

A popular favourite with Edinburgh residents, the annual fireworks concert is a spectacular and fitting way to bring the festivities to a climax. This year the Scottish Chamber Orchestra will play a British-themed suite under the shadow of Edinburgh Castle as the pyrotechnics explode overhead.

• For more information on the 2012 programme, visit www.eif.co.uk