Edinburgh International Festival Reveals its 2017 International Festival Portraits Series

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The Edinburgh International Festival has today revealed its 2017 International Festival Portraits series. Intimate filmed portraits with six celebrated International Festival artists talking about the art they love, the series offers a rare glimpse into the creative thinking of some of the world’s most renowned musicians, playwrights and artists.

The Edinburgh International Festival is an unparalleled celebration of the performing arts and an annual gathering of the greatest creative minds in opera, theatre, dance and classical music. What inspires these giants of the arts to create?

The  2017 International Festival Portraits feature playwright Alan Ayckbourn, violinist Joshua Bell, artist and musician Martin Creed, playwright Zinnie Harris, sitar player Anoushka Shankar and pianist Mitsuko Uchida  sharing personal reflections on their art form, the nature of live performance, and the unique connection they experience with an audience every time they take to the stage.

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  • “It’s the only place where we can go as people and remind ourselves of what it is to be human”

Celebrated playwright and storyteller Alan Ayckbourn talks about the excitement, emotion and thought-provoking live experience of theatre. Ayckbourn brings his new work The Divide to the King’s Theatre on 8-20 August at the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival.


  • “Music has a way of expressing some of the great essences of the human spirit, of the world, the universe, in ways that are so hard to put into words”

Superstar US violinist Joshua Bell describes his first discovery of music, the emotive experience of live performance and why music means so much to him. Bell is an Artist-in-Residence at the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival performing at the Usher Hall and Queen’s Hall on 21, 24 & 26 August.


  • “I find it really difficult to use the word art, because I don’t really know what it is”

Artist, musician and Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed reflects on his job as an artist, trying to be true to himself, and making other people’s lives better. Creed performs Words and Music at The Studio from 4-27 August at the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival.


  • “I think part of being a human is to try and explore different ways of telling stories”

Award-winning playwright Zinnie Harris talks about writing and forming stories, the importance of challenging something within the soul, and why that has always been a part of being human. Harris brings three productions to the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival: Oresteia: This Restless House, Rhinoceros and Meet Me at Dawn.


  • “I think that’s what music can do – it can help us connect to each other”

Anoushka Shankar, a global musical star and sitar virtuoso, describes the electricity of being on stage and the power of music to help us connect with each other. Shankar performs at the Usher Hall on 16 August at the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival.


  • “The music should be that; you should just have the pure pleasure and joy and be open to it”

One of the world’s most revered pianists Mitsuko Uchida discusses living for music and the unpredictability of performing on stage. Uchida performs a recital at the Usher Hall on 21 August at the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival.


The portraits build on the success of the 2015 and 2016 International Festival Portraits featuring artists Juliette Binoche, Barry Humphries, Alan Cumming, John Tiffany, and Meow Meow who returns to the International Festival this year in Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid.

To watch the 2017 International Festival Portraits and to find out more about the series, please visit eif.co.uk/portraits


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