In 1947, Sir John Falconer – Lord Provost of Edinburgh and the International Festival’s first Chair – spoke of his ambition that the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival should ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’. 70 years later, Edinburgh has bloomed into the world’s Festival City and its impact has been an constant inspiration, propagating new festivals throughout Europe and beyond. The Interantional Festival continues to celebrate our highest artistic achievements, our imagination and creativity, our generosity and diversity.
The third in a series of commissions from the International Festival’s Artistic Associates 59 Productions, the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom is a an epic public artwork by 59 Director Leo Warner, which brings together large-scale animation and architectural projection mapping, celebrating the cultural reignition sparked by the Festival’s creation. Featuring a newly commissioned musical score from award winning composer Nick Powell, the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom charts the joyful transformation of Edinburgh, from the darkness and division of the post-war years to the colour and vibrancy of today’s Festival City. Bloom draws upon the architechtural beauty of the new town, Edinburgh’s rich cultural heritage and the technological innovation for which the city is renowned.
Today the International Festival unveiled new information about the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom, naming the location as St Andrew Square in Edinburgh’s New Town. Following the successes of The Harmonium Project in 2015 and 2016’s Deep Time, this year’s opening event sees 59 Productions transform not only a single building but use the facades around St Andrew Square to create a vast canvas for projection-mapped animations. The Square becomes an immersive environment of colour, texture, sounds and sensations that places the audience at the centre of a visually stunning digital constellation.
The International Festival also announced that the Opening Event will take place on two nights for the first time, on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August, giving audiences another opportunity to experience the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom during the opening weekend of the International Festival. The event runs from 10pm to midnight on a 20 minute loop, allowing audience members to explore it at their own pace.
The Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom is made possible by support from a portfolio of partners across the private and public sector. This is the second event in a three year partnership between the International Festival and Standard Life – the International Festival’s Opening Event Partner – which supports the the event alongside other key funders including Event Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, which have supported the Festival’s Opening Event since it’s inception in 2015. This year the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom also enjoys support from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals EXPO Fund. This year the EXPO Fund has made an additional £300,000 available to support the Festivals celebrating 70 years of the Festival City. Edinburgh International Festival is working with Essential Edinburgh to realise the event.
Entry to the event is free. To guarantee access for the 10pm start, a limited number of tickets are available for both nights and will be released from 10am on Monday 3 July. Ticket holders can access the event arena from 9pm ahead of the event beginning at 10pm on both evenings. Non-ticket holders are also welcome to attend and will be admitted from 10.30pm on a first come basis.
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, said: "EventScotland is delighted to once again support the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. Since its inception in 2015, the opening event has truly captured the imagination of festival-goers and opened it up to a whole new audience. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and we are very proud to have backed Fergus and his team’s vision to launch an event that has gone from strength to strength. In 2017, the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom will be a wonderful visual celebration of the Festival’s 70th anniversary and Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology."
Fergus Linehan, Edinburgh International Festival Director, said: "Since 1947 the International Festival has welcomed the world to Edinburgh, creating an electric atmosphere in this city which has radiated back out across the globe. That energy has transformed Edinburgh and sparked not only the development of the Festival City we know today, but the creation of countless other festivals around the world. We’ll experience that transformative power first-hand in Bloom, as 59 Productions create a digital constellation in the centre of our city that places our story and Edinburgh’s people at its heart. It takes a huge amount of collaborative work to mount an event like this, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of our partners. I’d like to thank all of them - Standard Life, the Scottish Government, EventScotland, the University of Edinburgh, Blue-i Theatre Technology and Mclcreate – their support enables us to present this incredible celebration of our Festival City in its birthday year."
Leo Warner, Founder of 59 Productions and Director of Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom said: "Following two wonderful years working with Fergus and his team at the International Festival to create increasingly ambitious and engaging opening events, we faced a challenge in conceiving a new piece befitting the significance of this anniversary year. We decided to place audiences inside the event, encompassing them within nearly half a linear kilometre of projection-mapped architecture and bespoke lighting fixtures, and use music, sound and light to tell a story celebrating the 70 year history of the International Festival and the associated Edinburgh festivals, and the immesurable impact that it has had on the cultural world."
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: "I never tire of championing Scotland’s outlook as a welcoming and progressive nation and this is particularly demonstrated in the arts. In 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival boldly invited artists from across Europe to perform in the capital. 70 years on, we’re revered as a festival nation that welcomes performers and audiences from every corner of the globe. We boosted the Scottish Government’s EXPO Fund by a further £300,000 to mark Edinburgh’s 70th anniversary as a festival city. I am delighted that part of this will support the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom, an ambitious, inspiring and artistic visual representation of those 70 years. It is a fitting tribute to Edinburgh’s legacy as the city that inspired cities around the world to celebrate the arts."
Entry to the event is free. To guarantee access for the 10pm start there are a limited number of tickets for both nights available on 3 July at eif.co.uk/bloom. Ticket holders will have access to the arena from 9pm. Non-ticket holders will be admitted from 10.30pm on a first come basis.