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08 08 2019 Eif Hard To Be Soft Gaelle Beri 3 Photo: Gaelle Beri

Our work with Young People

Year-round and during August, we work with a number of young people on projects that range from explorations of the artforms and international artists we present on stage through to opportunities to participate and perform at the International Festival, connecting at all times to relevant curriculum learnings.

Opera Project 2019

The 2019 International Festival Opera Project explored Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky’s best-loved opera featuring some of his most inspired and captivating music.

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The workshop beforehand is highly entertaining - a superb introduction to the whole genre as well as the specific work in the EIF programme. It is highly accessible to a wide variety of pupils.” Previous Teacher Attendee

The International Festival’s Opera Project is an annual initiative that seeks to make the artform of opera accessible to young people, breaking down barriers and perceptions. Using an opera from the forthcoming International Festival programme, we present an English-language, potted version to Secondary school pupils, introducing them to the specific work as well as to specific song and singing techniques being used by the composer.

In June, the International Festival's special opera cast visited 12 schools to present a distilled version of Eugene Onegin with live piano accompaniment, telling the story of this captivating opera in an engaging yet accessible way for audiences of all levels.

Schools were then invited in August to attend the opening night of Komische Oper Berlin's spectacular production of Eugene Onegin at the Festival Theatre, offering pupils the chance to witness a full-scale opera within their very own city. All tickets to the full performance were complimentary.

Photo: Gordon Terris

Herald Young Critics

Our Advanced Higher critical writing project in partnership with The Herald newspaper. 

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Running for over 15 years, Herald Young Critics is the International Festival critical writing project. It explores bringing young people from across Edinburgh to see performances they may not normally engage with and seeks their critical responses.

Partnering with The Herald newspaper, all responses are published online, with one review from each school selected to be printed in The Herald. One of these printed responses is then chosen as an overall winner and receives the Wee Cherub Award as part of the Herald Angels awards.

In June, our collective of arts critic from The Herald visited schools to present a workshop about arts criticism, as well as talking about their wider career and experience. Pupils are then invited to a performance during the International Festival in August and have until the next day to produce their critical response. Performances are chosen from across the programme including classical music, theatre, dance, opera and contemporary music, and all elements are FREE of charge.

Boroughmuir High SchoolHard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer
Broughton High SchoolShanghai Symphony Orchestra
Craigroyston Community High SchoolRoots
Holy Rood RC High SchoolNight Walk for Edinburgh
Leith AcademyRite of Spring
Portobello High School ­– Sharon Van Etten
The Royal High SchoolOedipus
Tynecastle High SchoolEugene Onegin

Read their critical responses over on our blog.

You can find the results of the 2018 Herald Young Critics here.

Heart of Hollywood

Community engagement initiative with the pupils of Tynecastle High School.

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To connect with this year’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: LA Phil at Tynecastle, the International Festival has been working closely with a group of International Festival Ambassadors, made up of pupils and staff from Tynecastle High School, to create a community engagement project for their local neighbourhood that will inspire and excite audiences for the Opening Event.

Over eight weeks, International Festival staff workshopped with the Ambassadors to explore the themes of the LA Phil at Tynecastle event, what it takes to devise and develop ideas for events, and finally project managing their chosen event.

Then on Monday 24 June, the Ambassadors presented their Heart of Hollywood Film Night, a free event for everyone in the local community hosted in the Gorgie Suite of Tynecastle Park stadium. The event included live music, face-painting, free food for all attendees, and culminated in a film screening of the movie Sing!. The Ambassadors also encouraged attendees to make donations towards Big Hearts Community Trust if they could, giving something back to the local community.

A big thank you to everyone who helped the Ambassadors put their event on especially the team at Tynecastle Park and Big Hearts Community Trusts, as well as singer Jay Withers, face-painter Stina Sparkles, and INDY Cinema who provided the projection.

Leith Academy School Residency

Residencies At Leith Academy 036

Find out more about our partnership with Leith Academy

Young Musician's Passport

Every August, some of the world’s greatest orchestras, soloists and conductors come to Edinburgh to perform at the International Festival. With a Young Musician’s Passport, your pupils can see them for free!

Full details on our Young Musician’s Passport scheme here.

Previous Projects with Young People

Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams

Young people were at the heart of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams in 2018, 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.

The End of Eddy

In 2018 the International Festival presented the premiere of The End of Eddy, the latest theatre work from Stewart Laing and Pamela Carter based on the book by Édouard Louis. Working closely with the Unicorn Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival provided pupils with a comprehensive exploration of the themes of the play. Teachers were presented with a bespoke teaching resource, and Secondary school pupils attended a performance of the show at the Festival Theatre Studio, and then received in-school workshops by artists from The Unicorn. 


Drawing on the themes of identity, migration, connection and hope, Kadamati was a breath-taking 6 minutes of mass movement performed by 300 young people from across Scotland. The participants took part in workshops with our Dance Artists to learn the choreography by Akram Khan before coming together to perform in front of over 2000 audience members, including attendees of the Edinburgh International Cultural Summit, in the courtyard of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Thanks to dance artists Jade Adamson, Vassia Bouchagiar, Ashley Jack, Emma Jayne Park, Carolina Ravaioli, Emma Smith, Pirita Tuisku, Lucy 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.

18 08 2019 Eif Quatuor Mona Gaelle Beri 33

Our work with Communities

Soul Boxes Workshop © Mihaela Bodlovic 050

Our work with Children

Ane Satyre Of The Thrie Estaitis © Ryan Buchanan 29

Our work with Talent Development