The world-famous Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra is to open the Edinburgh International Festival with a curtain-raiser at Tynecastle Park football stadium.
Heart of Midlothian will play away from home at the start of next season to accommodate a free Friday night concert celebrating a host of classic Hollywood movies before an expected 15,000-capacity crowd.
Instead of the usual
Gorgie anthems, the stadium will resound to the much-loved themes created by Hollywood composer John Williams for classic movies like Star Wars, Jaws, Harry Potter and ET: The Extra Terrestrial.
The music of Bernard
Herrman, who is best known for his work for Alfred Hitchcock, and Franz Waxman, whose films included Sunset Boulevard and The Philadelphia Story will also feature in the 90-minute event.
Due to get under way at 7pm on August 2, the family-friendly concert will see thousands of ticket-holders allowed onto the covered pitch at Tynecastle, which was chosen ahead of Holyrood Park. Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby, was ruled out for the event on the grounds of being too big.
Director Fergus Linehan, a regular at matches at both Tynecastle and Easter Road, revealed that Hearts owner Ann Budge had already seen the orchestra in action at the Hollywood Bowl.
This year’s curtainraiser follows previous opening night spectaculars which brought thousands of people onto the streets to see the Usher Hall, buildings on St Andrew Square and Edinburgh Castle Rock transformed by spectacular sound and light shows.
However an earlier start time is aimed at making the new event more accessible to children, with the festival also pledging to ensure thousands of local people can get tickets after a ballot opens in July.
Mr Linehan said the advent of the new main stand at Tynecastle, which opened in the autumn of 2017, had prompted the approach to the club over the concert, which will be conducted by the orchestra’s music director Gustavo Dudamel, the celebrated Venezuelan musician.
Mr Linehan said: “A big part of what the LA Philharmonic do is their Hollywood Bowl experience every summer.
“As they are doing a residency with us this year we should try to replicate that in some way in
“We approached the club with the idea of using Tynecastle as we were aware of the recent work that had been done to upgrade the stadium, including the new stadium.
“Tynecastle is a contained auditorium which is really tight up against the pitch. We just thought it would be a really good place to do something. We’ve never done anything at all in this part of the city.
“The funny thing when we went to the club to pitch the idea of doing this was that Ann Budge had been to the Hollywood Bowl and seen the LA Philharmonic there.”
Mr Linehan said he was open to the possibility of future events at both Tynecastle and Easter Road, where he regular attends matches.
He also highlighted that Leith Theatre would be hosting gigs for the second year in a row, with Jarvis Cocker, Neneh Cherry, Teenage Fanclub and Kate Tempest all in its 2019 line-up, while the festival is in the second year of an official residency at Leith Academy.
Mr Linehan added: “There are actually a lot of parallels between Edinburgh’s football clubs and its festivals. They’re very connected into their local communities, they’re really important to the city and our businesses are very similar.
“We both have lots of tickets to sell and we also have passionate and opinionated supporters. Lots of people go to both sporting and cultural events in the city.
“I was a bit surprised that there weren’t more connections there already. There definitely should be more.
“Tynecastle and Easter Road are incredible facilities that are just sitting there. How many times are they actually used throughout the year?”
Ms Budge said: “The club is both delighted and honoured that the Edinburgh International Festival has agreed to bring the 2019 opening event to Tynecastle Park.
“We really can’t wait to welcome thousands of local families and friends to the stadium to hear Gustavo Dudamel conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a spectacular tribute to the music of Hollywood.
“The move to bring this free festival here fulfils our ambition to showcase the fantastic facilities at Tynecastle for more than just football.
“We want to make it a hub for social and economic change in our community and beyond.”
Meanwhile one-man shows by stage and screen stars Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry appear alongside Glaswegian Broadway star James McArdle, and pop, rock and indie favourites Jarvis Cocker, Teenage Fanclub and Neneh Cherry have all been confirmed in this year’s EIF line-up.
McKellen, who will be recalling highlights from his illustrious career, including playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, will be returning to the Assembly Hall, the same venue he appeared at as Edward II in 1969, when the police were famously called to the home of the Kirk’s General Assembly amid protests over a then hugely controversial on-stage gay kiss.
Fry, who shot to fame at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1981 when he appeared alongside Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie in Cambridge Footlights’ Perrier Award-winning revue, will be staging three separate shows adapted from his own book on Greek mythology - which will each be staged twice during the festival.
McArdle, who has been starring in Broadway in Angels in America, appeared in the recent Mary Queen of Scots movie, will return to the EIF five years after starring in The James Plays to take on the lead role in Peter Gynt. Oscar-winning writer David Hare is behind a new adaptation of the classic Ibsen play Peer Gynt, which sees the 19th century Norwegian story relocated to 21st century Scotland.
The festival, which runs from 2-26 August, will be back for the second year in a row at Leith Theatre, the recently-revived EIF venue which was lying empty for nearly 30 years after falling into decline in the 1980s.
Pulp frontman Cocker, Swedish ssnger-songwriter Cherry and Scottish indie stalwarts Teenage Fanclub will be joined in its 2019 line-up by Mercury Prize nominee and spoken word sensation Kate Tempest, American singer Sharon Van Etten, British folk-rock outfit This is the Kit and Danish band Efterklang.
All of Scotland’s national performing companies are in the festival line-up for the first time during Mr Linehan’s tenure.
Scottish Opera will be staging the European premiere of an adaptation by American composer Missy Mazzoli of the acclaimed Lars von Trier film Breaking The Waves, which is set amid a strict religious community in a remote corner of the Highlands.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra will stage two concert performances of Leonard Bernstein’s classic musical West Side Story featuring a hand-picked cast drawn from both Scotland and America. The National Theatre of Scotland will be launching the world premiere of a stage show based on Scots Makar Jackie Kay’s acclaimed memoir on growing up in Scotland as a mixed-race child and her attempts to track down her biological parents.
Scottish Ballet Will mark its 50th anniversary with the world premiere of a brand new dance version of Arthur Miller’s classic play drawing parallels between the 17th century witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts, and the anti-Communist investigations led by US Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.
Five concerts will be staged to celebrate the 60th birthday of Ayrshire-born composer Sir James MacMillan, including the world premiere of a brand new choral symphony.
Among the more unusual festival productions will be In Plain Sight, which will see dancers performing routines on floating rafts on a series of lakes at Jupiter Artland sculpture park near Edinburgh Airport.
The festival is also joining forces with the Fruitmarket Gallery to stage Night Walk - a “one on one video walk” experience which will see audiences guided around the city’s Old Town for two hours every night for a month.
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