The Edinburgh Festival

We have just finished four days in Edinburgh at the Festival. It is HUGE! While there are about 60 events in the International festival – what people generally refer to as the Festival, there are nearly 3,000 events in the Fringe, the extraordinary plethora of theatrical, dance and musical activity, completely unselected, that comprises the largest festival event in the world. Highlights of the Festival included:

  • Glorious performance of Monteverdi madrigals and Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda by the Concerto Italiano, simply the best ensemble in the world for the Italian baroque
  • Wandering the crowded and historic precincts of Edinburgh, grey and gloomy, but chock full of atmosphere and excitement
  • The wonderful Bernarda Fink singing Dvorak’s moving Biblical Songs with the Czech Philharmonic
  • The Royal Military Tattoo –  for the wrong reasons as we sat for nearly three hours in teeming rain while the stalward performers never batted an eyelid. Despite Edinburgh’s notoriously fickle weather, apparently no performance of the Tattoo has ever been cancelled in its 67 year history

Whitby at the North York Moors Festival

We have been travelling for a week – first again to Stratford on Avon for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s performances of Webster’s Elizabethan tragedy The White Devil in a dubious updating of this savage and bloodthirsty play, and then a charming production of his early comedy Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Even more enjoyable was a few days spent in the Yorkshire moors for the North York Moors Music Festival set in lovely church venues in historic towns in the moors. We stayed in a comfortable boutique hotel outside Whitby and greatly enjoyed walking excursions both in the town of Whitby and on the fabulous beaches. Three concerts in the lovely churches were all delightful and infomal. We were thrilled when at my request the artistic director Jamie Walton consented to come to the hotel to be interviewed by me for the group, only for him to arrive with the Festival’s Patron Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, an unexpected honour, whch threw me, having to dredge up from my memory impromptu, enough facts about him to conduct a credible interview!

London and Glyndebourne

Yesterday was the incomparable Glyndebourne for La Traviata. We drove down and back for the night and again I interviewed Tim Walker of the London Philharmonic about the background to Glyndebourne and the orchestra which has played for Glyndebourne since 1953.  So far on the tour we have enjoyed a lovely recital by violinist Janine Jansen where she played Schubert’s strange Fantasy in C and Prokofiev’s elegant Sonata for 2 violins at a Prom at the Cadogan Hall. The next day we went to a big scale Prom at the Albert Hall where Sibelius‘ 5th Symphony was played