My Edinburgh Festival

Well, it’s all over for another year. The Edinburgh International Festival has enjoyed the eighth and final Festival directed by Sir Jonathan Miller. This has been the 65th year of the Festival, started after the Second World War to try and bring together people and culture throughout a war-torn world.  Back to this year. I have attended a number of performances including dance, symphonic music, opera and drama. Apart from one or two challenging evenings, I thought the Festival overall was of a high standard and a memorable one. It is difficult to single out any particular performance but I will mention a couple that stood out for me.

The Opening Concert got off to lively start. The Edinburgh Festival Chorus never disappoints. The music by Scriabin and Schoenberg started the concert followed after the interval by the more gentle French composer, Debussy. I preferred, however, the Saturday evening concert, also in the Usher Hall, of Holst’s Planets performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under their Chief Conductor, Donald Runnicles (pictured left, by John Wood). The orchestra regularly performs all over the country, on Radio 3 and television as well as gramaphone for which they have won major awards. This programme also included Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, Berg’s Scaben Friche Leider and ended with Colin Matthews’ Pluto, a tribute to Holst’s daughter, Imogen,with whom he worked.
InalaProductionPicture02eif2014 copyIn Ala was set in South Arica, a country I know well. The title has two meanings, ‘harvest to reach’ and  ‘abundance of goodwill’. Both the singing and dancing were beautiful. There was a 50 year age range in the choir which led to a wonderful balance of of voices. My daughter, Fiona, and I both loved it. (picture credit Giulietta Verdon Roe)
HelenLawrence06eif2014 copyIn many ways the most difficult performance I saw, at the King’s Theatre (of which Fiona and I are Patrons) was the play, ‘Helen Lawrence’ (pictured left by David Cooper). It was a combined production between the Banff Centre and the Canadian Arts Club and was written by Chris Haddock and and Stan Douglas. Never before had I seen a production which combined both film and acting. It was performed by a combination of actors and film makers with the cast operating the cameras.  The action takes place in 1948, set in Vancouver and involves a highly corrupt police force, a good deal of low level crime among non-Canadians in the downtown area, with the police making large sums of money from illegal protection rackets  and the somewhat unlikely ambition of two brothers to open a Beer Garden among the rubble! The’heroine’, Helen Lawrence aka Elizabeth Mansfield, has travelled from California to Vancouver to find her late husband’s killer. There were far too many sub-plots to describe but the culmination of the play was that Helen found the killer and tracked him to the railway station. The finale takes place as the engine pulls away, the wheels screech and a whistle screams! Powerful stuff and quite fascinating.

In 2015 the new Director, Fergus Lineham takes over. He has already made a start on attracting an equally fascinating line-up.

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Christine Richard OBE FRSA Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.

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