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Songlines to criss-cross Edinburgh for a unique celebration of singing

The Edinburgh International Festival presents Songlines, a free participatory event celebrating the joy of singing. Songlines follows the success of the 2015 International Festival community event for brass bands, Fanfare.

Songlines is a city-wide event taking place on Sunday 21 August inviting communities across Edinburgh and the Lothians to take part in a unique celebration of singing. From 2pm to 4pm, 12 choirs - featuring both trained and community voices - perform in 9 venues across Edinburgh and its surrounds, stretching from Dalmeny across to Haddington. Venues include gardens, churches, museums and castles, with 9 soloists and 8 pianists also joining choirs at some locations, with renowned Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill confirmed to perform as one of the soloists.  


Songlines is lead by performances from the choirs, with song-sheets also available so audiences can join in with some of the pieces. The end of the second session at 4.50pm offers a moment for the choirs and audiences across all respective locations to join together to sing the Scots-Irish traditional Wild Mountain Thyme, making for a city-wide singalong of this much-loved ballad. The full repertoire of songs ranges from classical to rock, featuring works including Strauss’ Morgen and Elbow’s modern torch-song One day like this, alongside folk and Scots traditional songs. 

The name Songlines is inspired by the Indigenous Australian tradition of passing on sacred stories as large song cycles, which maintain a living link between land and people. Singing is an integral and essential part of our lives - whether on a football terrace, in a concert hall or simply in the shower - singing has guided, soothed and filled peoples lives and communities for centuries.

This is the second year that the International Festival includes performances from local community groups. In 2015 the community brass band project Fanfare drew an audience of 6000 to locations along the Water of Leith in a celebration of popular music and amateur performance.

Events like these enable the International Festival to move beyond its city centre home into areas and communities across and around Edinburgh. The International Festival’s community engagement and creative learning programmes operate both during August and around the year, building audiences and partnerships for the future and expanding its reach into local communities. 

Learn more about Songlines

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