A unique time in the city of festivals. Edinburgh International Festival
30 November 2022
VOICES OF YOUNG EUROPEAN JOURNALISTS
August is the month to feel the festival spirit in Scotland's capital. One of the festivals held there was the Edinburgh International Festival. We had the pleasure of attending it for a few days.
Music also played a major role. Many events had been targeting classical music fans. Pianist Bruce Liu, winner of the 2021 Chopin Piano Competition made his Festival debut with a recital. Festival participants also had the opportunity to hear interpretations of works by well-known composers such as Beethoven and Schubert. For those who preferred contemporary music, concerts by The Cinematic Orchestra, Princess Nokia or Lucy Dacus were certainly to their liking. In general, the festival presented a wide range of music types, from techno through rap to indie.
The event, which lasts almost the entire month of August, emphasised the great diversity of arts. Not only music and theatre but also dance, films, talks and traditional music found their place in the programme. The festival touched on many issues that concern the problems of today’s world. One of them was the international series “Refuge”, which was performed by artists who come from refugee and other migrant backgrounds, examined what the word "belonging" means today.
During three days (10 to 13 August), we had the pleasure to attend not only a beautiful festival but also a city that is full of life and events bringing people together.
“Attending the Edinburgh International Festival is a slap in the face of one's own prejudices. Even and especially those you didn't know you had.
It happens, for example, to attend a concert for clarinet and piano. A situation that common sense would like to be solemn, serious, and formal. And then, it happens to discover that the audience, for a good part of the performance, is laughing. Mind you: not just at the musician's jokes - which she does, too, with typical British humour. It is the virtuosity with the instrument that creates ironic, paradoxical, funny effects. And one prejudice - classical music as a boring discipline - is debunked.
But the surprises did not end. We happened, during the last evening available, to witness a performance unlike any other. As we made our way to the theatre, we were unaware of what we were going to see - indeed, one of the pleasurable aspects of the festival experience is to be guided by instinct in the choice of performances. First oddity: the ticket had no seat number on it. This is a standing-room-only performance, we would find out later. The second oddity, we are required to be over 18 to attend. The third oddity, the audience is unusually young.
Entering the lobby, we begin to understand. A large bar appears near the stage. Dozens of screens and lights stand in the middle. Convinced we were watching a performance of Bach or Mozart, we found ourselves at the concert of one of the most visionary electronic artists of our time. And no alcohol was needed to get lost in the collective hypnosis of music, lights, and screens. An all-around experience. Another prejudice is debunked: the idea that electronic music is a low, vulgar genre. I challenge anyone who has witnessed the performance not to consider what they have seen as art.
It turns out that a festival is also a wonderful way of discovering the unexpected. To discover that in the deep north of the British Isles lies an incredibly warm soul. That Edinburgh vibrates with the energy of thousands of young men and women students. Getting lost in the Old Town at night means alternating between futuristic discos inside deconsecrated churches, Harry Potter-like atmospheres, languages, accents and flavours from all over the world.
Perhaps the greatest prejudice vanquished: you think you are coming for the music, but you discover you are staying for a thousand other wonderful reasons”
“To come to a city like Edinburgh is about experiencing more than just the spirit of the festival that takes place when you are there. It’s about a green city where you can feel a huge sense of tranquillity and in the evenings see how it gets alive.
I had the pleasure of attending several performances. Two of them were the most memorable for me. One was Windows of Displacement, in which Akeim Toussaint Buck presented his story of migration through dance, spoken word and songs. Not only the story of his life itself, but the way he presented it on stage and, above all, the interaction with the audience made it a great time for me. At one point, the artist asked everyone to take out their phones and take a selfie with someone they didn't know. Because of that, I have photos now in my gallery of smiling people whose names I don't know, but who remind me of a special time during the festival.
I also really enjoyed the play Counting and Cracking. The story of a family as they break apart and come back together, leaving Sri Lanka for Australia, brought me closer to the country that I do not know much about: Sri Lanka. The play had a balanced dose of humour, emotion and important aspects that can be forgotten in today's world. While watching the play, one can see how much identity, migration and belonging mean to these persons, and how complex these words may be. The three hours I spent in the audience lasted like minutes because of the captivating story and good acting.
The Edinburgh International Festival is an event full of diversity and many wonderful arts. You can also see the spirit of youth, not only among young people but also among the older ones, to whom art releases what was perhaps somewhere lost. A beautiful festival showing that art unites, not divides”
Meet the authors Anna Marek and Lorenzo Tecleme
"I'm a Polish girl who gained her journalistic experience in several places, including writing for magazines and working in radios. I'm up for all possible challenges, adding the right dose of humour to them. I am primarily interested in talking to young people who introduce real changes. An example is the Youth Climate Strike in Poland as a youth movement fighting for a legal change in the government's approach to the climate crisis. I am interested in writing about how European Union programmes give young people a chance and how they changed their lives. I am also interested in the exclusion that many young people face because of their place of residence, gender or sexual orientation. I would like to raise topics that draw attention to the real problems of young people. I am also more and more interested in the culture of the Balkans and Turkey and their inclusion and impact on the European Union." (Anna)
"I am a student, activist, and journalist. I have written about climate policy and foreign affairs for several Italian media (Repubblica, Jacobin Italia, theWise) and was one of the correspondents of the newspaper Domani in Cop26, the UN Conference on climate change. I have always been very interested in the subject of the climate crisis - the topic I have written most about, studied most and believe I have mastered best. But I am also passionate of foreign affairs - in particular, I love Latin America - and of everything related to communication and pop culture." (Lorenzo)
The original text is published on the website of the EU and was written in the framework of 2022 European Year of Youth: youth.europa.eu