Violinist Nicola Benedetti announces the inaugural programme in her new role as Director of the Edinburgh International Festival


Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Nicola Benedetti

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The Edinburgh International Festival has revealed its 2023 programme, the first under the directorship of violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Benedetti, the first woman as well as first Scottish person to direct the Festival since it was founded in 1947, has based her inaugural programme around the central question ‘Where do we go from here?’ inspired by the writing of civil rights campaigner Dr Martin Luther King Jr and in particular his 1967 book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? 

Over the Festival’s span of 4–27 August, Benedetti’s vision is ‘to deliver the deepest possible experience with the highest quality performances to the broadest possible audience’ through 295 separate events featuring more than 2,000 local and international artists from across 48 nations. Benedetti also invites audiences to consider ideas of identity, community and audience through three central themes that underpin each week of the Festival: ‘Community over chaos’, ‘Hope in the face of adversity’ and ‘A perspective that’s not one’s own’. 

Classical and string highlights from 2023’s programme include 22 symphonic concerts in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. These encompass a series from the Budapest Festival Orchestra that includes a concert featuring violinist Daniel Lozakovich playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto; and concerts by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Símon Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. At The Queen’s Hall, there will be 19 intimate morning recitals that include festival debuts from the New York-based Isidore  Quartet, and South Korean Novus Quartet. Other string-based highlights include performances from the Amatis Trio, the Jupiter Ensemble, the Scottish Ensemble, South Korean KBS Symphony Orchestra with cellist Jaemin Han, violinist Clara-Jumi Kang, the Castalian Quartet, and Camerata Bern led by violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. 

Patricia Kopatchinskaja

 Patricia Kopatchinskaja

For the first time, the festival’s headquarters and ‘green room’ on the Royal Mile, The Hub, will be given over to a series of informal concerts and events over the Festival’s three-week span. Highlights here include performances by South African cellist Abel Selaocoe, who pairs Bach’s music with his own compositions; British cellist, composer and singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson (The Strad’s cover star for the June 2023 issue) and the LSO Percussion Ensemble; and the US jazz bassist and composer Endea Owens with her Sextet. There will also be a performance of Mendelssohn’s Octet led by American violinist Stefan Jackiw with violist Jessica Bodner and cellist Sterling Elliot, who will be joined by five emerging string players selected by Nicola Benedetti from an international call-out for artists on the cusp of their professional careers. 

General booking for the 76th Edinburgh International Festival opens on 3 May.

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