In Full

Culture in Full
Akram Khan ends the performance caked in dirt. Picture: Jean Louis Fernandez

Dance review: Xenos, Festival Theatre

Akram Khan has spent his entire career in the spotlight. No matter how many people were dancing on stage, it was him you looked at. Now that he is about to step away from performance, shifting his focus to choreographing for others, it seems fitting that Khan is not the only star of Xenos.

Edinburgh festivals
Cherie Moore helps Robin Kelly untangle his family tree. Picture: Contributed

Theatre review: Valerie, Summerhall

With the poise and power of a 1950s screen legend, Cherie Moore is blasting out a song, accompanied by her two-man live band, to such an extent that it feels like it’s going to burst through the walls and bring down Summerhall’s ceiling. Meanwhile, the audience is still traipsing in. The show hasn’t even started yet.

Edinburgh festivals
The Vaselines' Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee

Edinburgh International Festival: The Pastels and The Vaselines reunited

With the National Museum of Scotland’s Rip It Up exhibition giving due credit to Scotland’s punk, post-punk and indie musicians, it’s only appropriate (if a little uncanny) that cult heroes The Pastels and The Vaselines should appear together on a bill curated by the similarly independent-spirited Neu! Reekie! collective for the highfalutin International Festival.

Edinburgh festivals
Tomasz Kot plays jazz musician Wiktor and Joanna Kulig is folk singer Zula, caught in an off-on affair that spans many years.

Film interview: director Pavel Pawlikowski on his international love story, Cold War

When Pawel Pawlikowski’s previous film, Ida, won the Oscar for best foreign language film back in 2015, the Warsaw-born, formerly British-based director jovially defied the orchestra’s attempt to play him offstage so he could pay tribute to his parents. “They’re not among the living,” he managed to sputter out, “but they’re totally inside this film.” He was speaking in abstract terms. The 1960s-set Ida about an orphaned nun who embarks on a road trip with her aunt after discovering she’s Jewish wasn’t actually about them. Yet in making his first film in his native Poland, he was consciously delving into the landscape of his childhood and he realised that their relationship hung over him in a big way.

Rag 'N' Bone Man seems to be in perfect tune with the times

Music review: Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

IT SEEMS strange bordering on mystifying that this latest Summer Sessions concert in Princes Street Gardens should reportedly have attracted noise complaints from attendees at the fireworks-tastic Edinburgh Military Tattoo, of all places. If there’s any analogue for the easy listening genre in today’s pop market, then Rag ‘n’ Bone Man is surely it, despite bearing the fierce vocal of a blues artist and an equally formidable collection of tattoos; yet skin ink is no longer the preserve of wild rockers, and Rory Graham is a soul man at heart.

The Simon Fraser University pipe band play in Buchanan Street

Music review: Piping Live!

“NOW who shall play The Day It Daws,/Or Hunts Up when the Cock He Craws?” Gey few these days: Robert Semphill of Beltrees’s celebrated 17th-century poem provides a tantalising glimpse of a Lowland burgh piper’s repertoire, but The Life & Death of Habbie Simpson, Piper of Kilbarchan not only lamented his passing, but its distinctive metre would become widely popular with Fergusson, Burns and lesser Scots versifiers.

Christopher Bell became chorus master of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in 2007

Music interview: Christopher Bell looks back on over a decade in charge of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus

The week ahead will be one of mixed feelings for one of Scotland’s much-loved musical personalities. For the past 11 years, he has been intrinsic to the musical success of the Edinburgh International Festival, yet his stage appearances are mostly brief. For almost a quarter of a century he has transformed the country’s musical youth, in a way the current education system is struggling to do. He is a bundle of creative energy. He wears outrageous shoes. He is the irrepressible Christopher Bell.

Edinburgh festivals
Sir Tom Devine PIC: Greg Macvean

Book review: New Scots: Scotland’s Immigrant Communities since 1945, by TM Devine and Angela McCarthy (eds)

In most parts of the world, the idea of ethnic purity is a myth or an illusion. This is certainly the case in Europe. Few can trace their family tree more than a few generations back, but even this limited span is likely to reveal an immigrant or foreign-born ancestor or two. All European nations are mongrels. The early mediaeval Kingdom of Scotland was peopled by Picts, Scots, Britons (or Welsh) and Angles. In the 12th and 13th centuries Norman-French and Breton immigrants came to form a new governing class south of the Highland Line. An English chronicler then declared that the recent kings of Scotland “professed themselves to be Frenchmen”. Later immigrants were Flemings from Flanders, Norsemen from Scandinavia, and of course Englishmen. The 19th and early 20th century saw large-scale immigration from Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant. Meanwhile Scots emigrated – to England, the Americas, and what used to be called the White Dominions. Douglas Young, professor of Greek, poet and early member of the SNP used to claim there were more than 20 million Scots in the world.

Edinburgh festivals
Claire Askew

Book review: All The Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

All the Hidden Truths is a timely book, told from the points of view of three Edinburgh women. DI Helen Birch, in her first day following a promotion, starts to get reports of a shooting at a fictional city college. Two mothers of students, Ishbel Hodgekiss, who argued with her 19-year-old daughter the night before and Moira Summers, whose son Ryan has become increasingly distant since the death of his father, are first made aware of the incident by sirens, Twitter reports and patchy news coverage as the event unfolds. What happens is told through their eyes, supplemented by sensationalist tabloid reports, hysterical commentary on social media and transcripts of police interviews with survivors and families.

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