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Opening Weekend 2015

What an incredible opening weekend to the 2015 Festival it has been, and we're only just getting started!

In spectacular fashion, The Harmonium Project opened the Festival on Friday evening with a spellbinding audio/visual display the type of which Edinburgh has rarely seen. For one evening only, the technical wizards at 59 Productions transformed the Usher Hall into magnificent theatre of light, set to a powerful score from John Adams, which was performed by an ever impressive Edinburgh Festival Chorus, who were celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Saturday saw the theatre programme lift its curtains to the delights of Juliette Binoche in Ivo van Hove's Antigone and Simon McBurney in Complicite's ground-breaking The Encounter.

Antigone began its month long run here at the Festival preceeded by a string of acclaimed performances at London's Barbican, with star Binoche headlining a stellar cast of acting talent in this contemporary take on the Sophokles tragedy. 

Going it alone on the Festival stage is McBurney in The Encounter, which saw its World Premiere over the weekend here in Edinburgh. Quickly becoming a standout of the Festival, the incredible Complicite production employs the use of binaural sound to create a show unlike anything we've ever seen (or heard!) before. The critical and public reaction, abundant in superlatives, has been nothing short of awe inspiring. 
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The immaculate Nash Ensemble began festivities at the Queen's Hall, with a nimble and expressive performance of Williams and Schubert, which was warmly received by an early morning audience. Elsewhere at the Playfair Library Hall, celebrated Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder performed the first in his recitals of Beethoven, which will see him perform a marathon 32 sonatas over the course of the coming month.

At the Usher Hall on Saturday, still no doubt buzzing from Harmonium the night before, the Opening Concer saw the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Donald Runnicles and the incredible Edinburgh Festival Chorus (celebrating their 50th anniversary!) dazzle and delight crowds with a programme of Brahms and Strauss.

Sunday morning saw the renowned Tallis Scholars perform their sole show of the Festival to an enraptured crowd at the Queen's Hall, displaying the accomplished choral sound that has lead to their international recognition.

Rounding out the day's events in true Scottish style was Celtic Dialogues, an evening celebrating old, historical and modern traditions.

Two of Ireland’s most fascinating artists, multi award-winning playwright Enda Walsh and composer Donnacha Dennehy, gifted the Festival yet another World Premiere with their thrilling chamber opera The Last Hotel. This dark, intimate and thought-provoking work has had its praises mightily sung by visiting audiences and critics alike. One to watch out for.

The Festival dance programme began in true style this year as ballet legend Sylie Guillem embarked on her farewell tour Life in Progress. This icon of the stage demonstrated her esquisite touch with a virtuoso performance that will surely cement her place in history as one of the greatest dancers to have ever lived. For a further look into this fascinating career, check our Artist Conversation interview with Guillem, conducted in collaboration with the BBC.

Closing a busy day of events were our Russian Standard Vodka Hub Sessions, which has seen the Edinburgh International Festival excitingly foray into a more contemporary programme of music events for the first time.

No better performer was equipped to lead this experiment than Canada's Chilly Gonzales. Gonzales, whose shows delighted, wowed, and cracked up our Festival audience in equal measures, performed a rousing show which deconstructed music from Bach to Daft Punk and everything between, in unique 'Gonzo-style'. An epic closer to an epic opening weekend.

Well, that's it for the opening weekend, but hold on to your seats, there is plenty more to come! Excuse us for a moment while we catch our breath.

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