International Festival celebrates 70 years with storytelling site

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In 2017, the Edinburgh International Festival marks 70 years of bringing together audiences and artists from across the world - and to celebrate the Festival has launched a special storytelling website featuring highlights from across its illustrious history. 

Gathering contemporary photos, footage and stories, the International Festival's project tells the story of the Festival, from its roots in the post-WW2 era to its growth over the decades and its constant commitment to bringing the world's best culture to Edinburgh each summer. 

Nicola Kenny, International Festival Digital Manager, said: 

It’s been a great experience to look back over the incredible 70 year history of the International Festival and find just some of the wonderful stories told by audiences, artists and former members of staff.

Just some of the many major moments covered by the project include: 

  • the emotional post-war reunion of conductor Bruno Walter and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • how in the early days of the Festival the people of Scotland opened their homes to accommodate visiting artists and audiences and even donated their coal rations to allow Edinburgh Castle to be lit at night 
  • the groundbreaking 1960 show Beyond the Fringe, which launched the careers of Jonathan Miller, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Peter Cook and was an early indication of the forthcoming boom in British satire across the rest of the decade
  • the founding of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in 1965 including the performance of one 11-year-old boy who would grow up to be famed conductor Donald Runnicles
  • how the State Ballet of Georgia became stranded in Edinburgh in 2008 when war broke out between their nation and Russia 

The International Festival is also inviting festivalgoers old and new to contribute their own Festival memories to the project, to add even more depth to the collection.

Ms Kenny added: 

The storytelling website has a varied selection but there are so many tales to be told. We hope that this will be a starting point for even more people to share their stories from the International Festival, from those who coming for the first time in 2017, to those who have been coming since 1947.

The Edinburgh International Festival's storytelling project can be enjoyed at 70years.eif.co.uk, and members of the public interested in contributing their own memories are encouraged to email 70years@eif.co.uk to find out more. 

Edinburgh International Festival takes place from Friday 4 to Monday 28 August and tickets are on sale now. For more festival information plus programme and ticketing links, please visit our festival page.

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Images (l-r): Bruno Walter and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Beyond the Fringe, Edinburgh Castle illuminated at an early Princes Street Gardens Festival Concert  

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