Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to open Edinburgh International Festival

27 March 2019, 10:08 | Updated: 27 March 2019, 10:13

91st Annual Academy Awards - Show
91st Annual Academy Awards - Show. Picture: Getty

By Elizabeth Davis

This year’s festival takes place 2-26 August and includes performances of ‘West Side Story’ conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, the final instalment of the Festival’s ‘Ring’ cycle and a new version of Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’

The Edinburgh International Festival returns this August, bringing 2,600 artists from around the world to the city for 293 performances.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra will open the Fesitval with a free concert for 15,000 people at Tynecastle Park. The concert will feature a selection of great film music – including a focus on the music of John Williams.

The orchestra is the resident company at the festival, performing two concerts at the Usher Hall, including the European premiere of John Adams’ Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? performed by pianist Yuja Wang, and Mahler’s Symphony No.2 performed with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

The 2019 Edinburgh International Festival

Leonard Bernstein, whose centenary fell last year, is celebrated in two concert performances of West Side Story by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

This year’s festival also sees the culmination of a performance of Wagner’s Ring cycle that started in 2016. Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and a cast including soprano Christine Goerke, mezzo Karen Cargill and tenor Burkhard Fritz.

Among the operas to be performed this year are Tchaikovsky’s hugely popular Eugene Onegin, directed by Barrie Kosky and performed by the Komische Oper Berlin, and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, performed by the Deutsche Oper Berlin and conductor Donald Runnicles and starring soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.

A series of concerts will celebrate the 60th birthday of Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan including performances of his organ concerto A Scotch Bestiary and the world premiere of his Symphony No.5 ‘Le grand inconnu’ – a new choral symphony.

Dancer Eve Mutso poses at Festival venue Tynecastle Park to celebrate the launch of the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival programme
Dancer Eve Mutso poses at Festival venue Tynecastle Park to celebrate the launch of the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival programme. Picture: EIF

Festival director, Fergus Linehan said: “At the end of the first Edinburgh International Festival in 1947, conductor Bruno Walter wrote that the Festival has succeeded because ‘it was of the utmost importance and most to be desired that all the ties, which had been torn, should be re-united’.

“The 2019 International Festival launch is framed against a backdrop of division and confusion. With artists and audiences from all over the world gathering to celebrate each other’s music, theatre, dance and art, we hope that the 2019 International Festival will offer a refreshing dose of generosity, inclusiveness and optimism”.

A whole host of orchestras will be performed at the festival including Classic FM's Orchestra in the City of London, the London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle, the Orchestre de Paris with Daniel Harding, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra with conductor Long Yu, the Hallé Orchestra with Sir Mark Elder, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Soloists slated to perform include cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, violinist Rachel Podger, pianists Jeremy Denk and Beatrice Rana, mezzo Joyce DiDonato and baritone Roderick Williams.

In Dance, the festival will welcome a new version of Stravinsky’s groundbreaking ballet the Rite of Spring, choreographed by Yang Liping and designed by Tim Yip (who worked on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

To find out more about everything happening at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival head to