My own association with the art world in all its forms in Edinburgh is as important to me today as it has been since I arrived here some years ago. Every year since I first became a member of the Festival Council and then an elected non-exexutive director (a role in which I served for the maximum 6 years) I have felt part of the EIF.
This year, 2015, is the first for me as a reviewer for Lothian Life. In past years I have usually been at the opening concert at the Usher Hall but this year, Antigone, performed at the Kings’ Theatre – of which I am a Patron – was ‘my opening night’. Opinions have been mixed: a great deal was anticipated and expected from Juliette Binoche in the starring role. Yes, she was good, and as it whole it was this powerful story came across to me as a tense, dramatic team work! But, for me, this was just the start.
The excitement and quality of experience has been in the variety of each event, whether from the Festival of Art or the Beethoven piano Sonatas. I have already admitted the final performance of the the sequence played by Rudolf Buchbinder gave me personal pleasure – not least because my own late father who was half-Swiss (Ludwig Christian Saam) was himself a great pianist! Â Then again, ‘sheer fun’ was my feeling about the concert version of HMS Pinafore composed as an Opera by Gilbert and Sullivan and delivered on this occasion by a combination of excellent acting, singing and conducting.
How can a play be performed without words? Dragon at the Royal Lyceum Theatre proved simply it can be done. This fast-moving collaborative venture between the National Theatre of Scotland and the Chinese Tiajin People’s Arts Theatre was most skilful and caused me to realise yet again in behavoural terms ‘growing up’ in different cultures can be displayed on stage without a single spoken word being uttered.
Ballet has always been a great pleasure in my life and Zurich Ballet’s offering at the Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre which I saw on 29 August combined two very different styles and stories which I have reviewed on Lothian Life already. Again, this was a challenging and ‘avant garde’ spectacle.
It has been such a pleasure to see visual art more prominent this year and long may the contribution of Edinburgh’s Galleries continue for the benefit of artists and the high reputation of this cultured city. Finally – why did I choose as my title for this article ‘Reviewer or Critic? I have long believed the word ‘critic’ is a negative one, implying judgement, whereas I prefer ‘reviewer’ which does not always need to signify praise but may also suggest possible improvements and a way forward. I would love to know who agrees or disagrees with me about this!