News Story

This week we bring you an exciting and varied mix of International Festival staff picks in our new weekly playlist.

We asked our colleagues here at the International Festival for their favourite songs, movements and arias from the 2017 programme, and they did not disappoint! This week we bring you an exciting and varied mix of staff picks. Read (and listen) on to find out from a few about what they chose and why.

Macbeth- Act 1 Finale
My highlight of this year is likely to be the choral finale to Act 1 of Macbeth. When I worked at Scottish Opera before here at the International Festival (their production of the opera being the last one presented in the Festival), I remember being in the auditorium during the first stage and orchestra rehearsal of Act 1. I didn’t know the opera well but found myself – to my surprise – in tears at the sheer beauty and power of the music performed with huge assembled forces. I’ve since seen the opera many times but this section of music can still have the same effect on me as it did that first time back in 1999.
Drew, Artists Coordinator

Benjamin Clementine - London
I’d like to add a Benjamin Clementine song to the playlist; London. His voice is like caramel! I can’t wait to see him on the Festival Theatre stage in August. And I love the strings in this song.
Rachel, Marketing Assistant

Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians: Pulse
Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich is an incredible sonic experience in which you just want to lose yourself completely as pulsing marimbas, vibraphones, and xylophones gently mesmerise you. Usually, I would recommend closing your eyes as you embark on this hypnotic journey, but this August you’ll want to keep them wide open as you watch Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s visionary dance piece Rain set to the Steve Reich’s iconic composition.
Maciej, Digital Officer

Benjamin Britten - Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10: Var. IV. Aria Italiana
A piece which I always enjoy hearing is Benjamin Britten’s Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge. Frank Bridge taught Britten in the 1920s, and Britten’s musical tribute to his teacher serves as a fine example of artistic fusion, as Britten gives his own distinct flavours to Bridge’s melody. It’s fitting then, that this year this piece will be heard as part of another great artistic collaboration, when the Royal Scottish National Orchestra join forces with Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra in the Usher Hall on 23rd August.
Miranda, Marketing Administrator

Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales - Room 29
I love everything that Chilly Gonzales does. Jarvis Cocker’s dulcet tones on this track sooth you into the Room 29 album. I can’t wait to hear it live in August.
Nicola, Digital Manager

La Bohème - Quando me’n vo soletta (Musetta’s Waltz)
Musetta’s Waltz from La Bohème is one of the most seductive and compelling moments in Puccini’s opera. Musetta is a feisty, sassy character and Puccini’s music shows off her passionate and playful personality. Historically, opera brilliantly explores complex female characters, like Carmen or Norma, and in La Bohème, Musetta is a modern, empowered woman who knows how to get what she wants!
Emma, Creative Learning Officer

Peter Grimes - Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a
I always thought that opera wasn't really my thing until I saw Peter Grimes. Britten's music knocked me backwards and I was gripped by the storyline. The music is so vivid – every time I listen to the sea interludes I get transported to that small Suffolk fishing village. A cautionary tale of little England, you can't help but shed a few tears for the outsider Peter! I've seen Stuart Skelton in the role at ENO and the Proms and can't wait to see him bring his Grimes to Edinburgh!
Victoria, Senior Media Officer

Conchita Wurst - Rise Like a Phoenix
I’m very excited that Conchita Wurst will perform at this year’s International Festival as part of New European Songbook, a two-night concert series in which established European music acts collaborate with artists who have recently arrived in Europe. When Conchita won Eurovision in 2014, it signalled how much of a positive shift had taken place in Europe regarding LGBT rights and representation. Conchita will perform with the Austrian-based Syrian trio Basalt, showcasing how the sights and sounds of our continent are ever-changing. New European Songbook is presented as part of Spirit of ’47, our collaboration with British Council who were a co-founder of the International Festival. Plus the song is just very inspiring – it will definitely get us through the marathon month of August!
David, Communications Officer – Special Projects

Die Walküre - Wotan’s Farewell and the Magic Fire Music
I’ve picked Wotan’s Farewell and the Magic Fire Music, the concluding sequence from Die Walküre and one of the turning points of the whole Ring. After about 3hrs of drama, this is the scene where Wotan (the ruler of the gods) embraces his favourite daughter Brünhilde for the last time, and kisses her eyes to sleep, leaving her on a rock in an enchanted sleep. It’s a poignant and emotional climax to the opera, and the effect that no less than 6 harps in the orchestra create in portraying the flickering of the magic ring of fire which he encircles her sleeping body on a rock is breath-taking.
Andrew, Head of Music