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International Festival Young Peoples Awards © Mihaela Bodlovic 12 Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Our work with Young People

Find out more about some of our projects or young people this year, including performance opportunities and workshops. 

Kadamati | Photo: Ryan Buchanan


On Wednesday 22 August, Kadamati saw 300 young people aged 12 to 26 years from across Scotland take part in a mass dance performance at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Commissioned by 14:18 NOW: the UK arts programme for the First World War centenary, and with choreography from world-renowned dancer Akram Khan, the performance marked the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Prior to the performance, nine leading dance artists based in Scotland, undertook a series of workshops with a variety of groups – from schools to theatre groups, ballet schools to disco dancing troupes – to share with them the choreography and themes of Kadamati. All participants then came together as one cast for only one mass rehearsal on the Sunday prior to the performance.

Drawing on the themes of identity, migration, connection and hope, Kadamati was a breath-taking 6 minutes of mass movement performed to an audience of over 2000, and which also made up a part of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit.

Thanks to dance artists Jade AdamsonVassia BouchagiarAshley JackEmma Jayne ParkCarolina RavaioliEmma SmithPirita TuiskuLucy May Wilson, and Katie Miller for teaching the choreography to and leading each participating group.

The groups participating in Kadamati included:

Broughton High School Creative Electric   
Divas Dance Academy   
Fizzy Dance   
Great Feats   
House of Jack  
Ihayami Youth Collective   
Indepen-dance Young 1'z   
Larbert High School   
Leith Academy   
Macrobert Arts Centre   
Performing Arts Studio Scotland   
Shuffle Dance   
Starting Pointe Ballet   
Stellar Musical Theatre Company   
Valerie Brown School of Dance and Drama   
Waterfront Dance

Kadamati was commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions and was sponsored by Baillie Gifford Investment Managers.

One of the participants in Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams | Photo: Ryan Buchanan
Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams

Young people were at the heart of this year’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams, a Year of Young People signature event - from co-design and planning, through to working and performing on the night of the event, young people engaged in the project at all levels.

Created by composer Anna Meredith and 59 Productions, Five Telegrams, a bold new musical and visual work including stunning projections onto the façade of the Usher Hall, was split into five movements. The second of these saw a community choir appear within the audience singing the words of field postcards set to Meredith’s composition. The choir was trained by Stephen Deazley, Artistic Director of Love Choir, and choreographer Nathan Clarke who created movement for the performance. A small number of musicians also performed on the night, providing live accompaniment in trumpet, snare drum and euphonium,

All performers were dressed in capes designed and created by Edinburgh College of Art students as part of their Performance Costume course, and the students were on hand as wardrobe assistants on the night, helping the performers look their best. A number of young people also acted as Event Assistants on the project, supporting with the rehearsals in the run up to the Festival, and then on the night of the performance. They were joined by an Opening Event Digital Assistant who worked with the International Festival’s Marketing Team on promotion of Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams.

Finally, throughout the process, a group of young filmmakers were tasked with documenting the whole process. Under the guidance of filmmaker Lou McLoughlan, a team of eight camera-people captured the process of Five Telegrams from the perspective of young people, the results of which will be edited into a film that will be launched in Autumn 2018. The Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams was a co-commission by Edinburgh International Festival, BBC Proms and 14-18 NOW: WWI Centenary Art Commissions, was sponsored by Aberdeen Standard Investments, and was supported by Year of Young People and EventScotland.

The End of Eddy | Photo: Ryan Buchanan

The End of Eddy

Further engagement to work presented in August is a key objective of the Learning and Engagement department, and working closely with the Unicorn Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival provided a comprehensive exploration of the play The End of Eddy directed by Stewart Laing and written by Pamela Carter, which premiered in Edinburgh in August.

Edinburgh Secondary Schools who attended a performance of the play were offered an in-school workshop provided by the facilitation team at the Unicorn Theatre, an in-depth teaching resource, and a teacher’s CPD session which took place in June. Over 200 pupils attended performances of The End of Eddy during the International Festival, and then during the week following the team from the Unicorn conducted 10 workshops across the city, providing further exploration of the play and its wider themes.  The hands-on element of the workshop, alongside the bespoke information in the resource, has been designed to relate directly back to the learning objectives of Higher and Advanced Higher Drama pupils.

Further to this, working closely with Capital Theatres, a workshop was provided to young people via LGBT Youth Scotland. The attendees received a two-hour workshop followed by a meet-and-greet with the lead actors, before attend a performance of the production.

If you would like to know more about our project around The End of Eddy, or receive the teaching resource, please email

Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Opera Project - La Cenerentola

Now an annual project for the International Festival, this year our Opera Project explored La Cenerentola, Rossini’s effervescence telling of the Cinderella story.

Created by soprano Emma Morwood, the project saw a potted, English language version of the opera taken into nine schools, and one care home, across Edinburgh. This distilled version of La Cenerentola both told the story of Rossini’s piece whilst introducing the audiences to the music of opera and styles of singing used in the piece, breaking down barriers to the artform. For these performances Emma was joined by tenor Joseph Doody, mezzo-soprano Beth Taylor, baritone Doulas Nairne, and Andrew Brown who accompanied all performances on piano.

All schools who received an in-school performance were then invited to bring a group of pupils to the full production of La Cenerentola from the main International Festival programme. Over 150 young people attended the opening night of Opéra de Lyon’s production of the Opera at Festival Theatre, expanding their understanding and experience of the art of opera.

Rachel Cronin (Royal High School) received The Herald's Wee Cherub for her review of La Cenerentola | Photo: Gordon Terris

Herald Young Critics

2018 marks fifteen years of Herald Young Critics, our critical engagement programme that offers young people a different way to explore the arts. The initiative offers S5/S6 pupil, many of whom have had limited engaged with the International Festival before, the opportunity to see and review a piece of work at the International Festival during August, covering opera, music, theatre and dance.

This year we are worked with the following schools on our Herald Young Critics programme:

Boroughmuir High School reviewed The GRIT Orchestra’s performance of Martyn Bennett’s ‘Bothy Culture’

Broughton High School reviewed the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Holy Rood RC High School reviewed Peter Brook’s The Prisoner

Leith Academy reviewed Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook and The End of Eddy

Portobello High School reviewed Akram Khan’s XENOS

Royal High School review the opera La Cenerentola

All reviews are available to read on our blog.

One review from each group was selected to be published in The Herald newspaper, and from these seven reviews Rachel Cronin from Royal High School was selected as the winner of this year’s Wee Cherub Award, presented as part of the Herald Angel Awards.

National Youth Orchestra Of Canada Ryan Buchanan 1

Our work with Communities

Soul Boxes Workshop © Mihaela Bodlovic 050

Our work with children

Power Gender And The Arts Ryan Buchanan 012

Our work with Talent Development