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Fireworks and Symphonie fantastique: The International Festival Finale

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On Monday night the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert provided a fitting finale to the 2019 International Festival. Here's a recap of the final day of Edinburgh's summer festival season, with a look behind the scenes from some of the people who make the magic happen. 

6 lorries, 4 tonnes of explosives, 15 miles of cable, 14 Pyrotechnicians and 8 days of set-up... 

Fireworks Designer Keith Webb took us on a backstage tour of Edinburgh Castle as the 400,000+ fireworks were set up ahead of the big night. 

It’s not just about the fireworks though, with 58 musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra performing in the Fireworks Concert. We caught up with three of them to chat about what it’s like to be up on stage during this unique concert. It turns out they never get to see the fireworks at all! 

This year the Scottish Chamber Orchestra were joined by conductor Marta Gardolińska and Edinburgh-born mezzo soprano Catriona Morison. We caught up with both them about what it means to be involved in the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert. 

While the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert was the main event on Monday night, it was actually the second concert of the day for conductor Marta Gardolińska and the hard-working Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Earlier in the afternoon, P7 pupils from across Edinburgh gathered for the annual Virgin Money Schools Concert. Featuring the same repertoire of orchestral classics in the beautiful setting of Princes Street Gardens, this concert also included presenter Rachel Leach to guide the children through the music.  

By 9pm, with over 250,000 people gathered to watch the concert, it was time for the main event. The weather gods were smiling down on the gardens and it was perfect picnic weather - warm, dry and barely a breath of wind. The first half of the concert featured selections from Bizet's Carmen and Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, with Edinburgh-born mezzo soprano Catriona Morison joining SCO on stage.

Fireworks accompanied the second half of the concert, with selections from Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila Overture, Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, made world famous in Disney’s Fantasia, and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique. The famous waterfall returned for another year, cascading an incredible 45 metres down from Edinburgh Castle.

As the final notes of Symphonie fantastique floated out across Princes Street Gardens, the sky was lit up by a shower of gold and it was all over for another year. 

★★★★★ a truly spectacular finale

The Scotsman

Join us next year on 31 August, when we’ll be doing it all again! 

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