So what’s the verdict on this yearâ€™s Festival, the first with Fergus Linehan as director? The word that comes to mind is – popular! Throughout the three weeks there have been innovations that have injected life (and audiences) into the stiff formality that all too often has been the hallmark of Festivals past.
To begin with, there was the glorious Harmonium Project, which brought a spectacular light show and 20,000 people to the exterior of the Usher Hall in a glorious fusion of visual excitement and soaring harmonies in John Adamâ€™s mesmerising choral work performed by the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and The Royal Scottish National Orchestra. There canâ€™t have been a clubber or pubber in Lothian Road who failed to notice that the Festival had started.
Then there was the launch of FFS, otherwise known as Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. You had to be there to appreciate what must be the most rapturously received show ever to be part of the official Festival programme. When last did opera have dancing in the aisles? When did ballet have ushers giving up on trying to corral the audience in their seats? It was music at its loudest and most visceral as two great pop innovators fused into an artpop super group. And of course it was a sellout.
King Creosote from Fife was also officially on the Festival programme playing his music to accompany the film â€œFrom Scotland with Loveâ€, and featuring in a very special showing of â€œFrom Castlebrae with Loveâ€, which was introduced by Fergus Linehan himself, emphasising how much importance he places on the Festival entering into real partnership with real communities.
We also had the Dalkeith and Monktonhall Brass Band acquitting themselves magnificently in â€œEn Avant Marcheâ€,Â part of a Belgian co production between Les Ballets C de la B and NTGent. And, in tribute to this production, the local brass bands had a Saturday of free performance concerts along the Water of Leith walkway. RememberÂ also that the Festival borrowed from the Fringe, bringing to its programme a revival of â€œPaul Brightâ€™s Confessions of a Justified Sinnerâ€œ , as well as honouring one of Scotlandâ€™s greatest novelists with the hugely ambitious â€œLanarkâ€.
So has the profile of the Festival been raised locally? Definitely. Has it maintained its international stature? Â Canâ€™t say – we would need to know the final box office returns for that. Has it been enjoyable? A resounding yes! So take a bow Mr Linehan – the Festival seems in safe hands.
Highlight: FFS – for fun, talent and sheer enjoyment.
Lowlight: Murmel Murmel – forced humour watching a collection of human marbles rolling around the stage.