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Edinburgh Festival program announced (Aug. 14 – Sept. 6, 2009)
 2009 marks the 63rd holding of the Edinburgh Festival in the Scottish capital gathering an international program of opera, music, theater, dance and art. The 2009 schedule will include some 180 events to be held at 14 venues around the city.

Recently attention has focused on the new trends in the festival under the direction of Australian composer Jonathan Mills since 2007 with his experience with the Melbourne Festival and increased emphasis on classical music. The theme of this, his second festival as director, is the enlightenment movement of Scottish and French intellectuals from the latter half of the 17th into the 18th centuries. The program features works chosen to represent this era when intellectual leaders sought to introduce reason as an alternative to the traditional authority of the church and concepts based in mythology through efforts of enlightenment. Mills views this era of enlightenment as one of technical advances, philosophical inspiration and scientific discoveries. He says that if you had visited the Edinburgh of the 18th century you would have seen the origins of thought and discoveries that lie at the foundation of contemporary society.

The 2009 program will open with performances of Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, followed by the world premiere of the local Traverse Theatre Company’s production of The Last Witch, a play by Scottish playwright Rona Munro based on historical records citing a woman named Janet Horne as the last “witch” to be prosecuted in Scotland in 1727. From Australia, Mills has invited Malthouse Melbourne’s production of Optimism (a work inspired by the writings of the French Edification philosopher Voltaire) for its European premiere. Much attention also focuses on the invitation of a grand-scale production of Faust involving over 100 actors and musicians from Romania’s National Theater eRadu Stanca’ Sibiu.

From Japan, the Bach Collegium Japan (BCJ) will perform the Bach solo cantatas Ich armer Mensch, ich Sündenknecht (BWV 55) and Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen! (BWV 51). BCJ is an ensemble founded in 1990 by the organ and harpsichord performer and Tokyo National University of Arts professor, Masaaki Suzuki, and is dedicated to the quest for ideal performances of Bach and other Baroque composers’ religious music. The soloists for these performances will be Rachel Nicholls, Robin Blaze and Makoto Sakurada and Suzuki will conduct.

Also, the up and coming German film director who won the Golden Space Needle award at the 33rd Seattle International Film Festival for the film Hanami will direct the Handel opera Adometo, re di Tessaglia with the setting changed from ancient Greece to an era in Japan with samurai. Performance in this production will be choreographed by the German-based butoh dancer Tadashi Endo.

This year 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns which is being celebrated with a Homecoming Scotland program and this year’s Edinburgh schedule will also include programs related to this event. Attention also focuses on the first new work in twenty years from Scottish-born dancer and choreographer Michael Clark, which uses music from 1970s artists such as David Bowie and Iggy Pop Pop. Also, the Mabou Mines theater company of New York will do a performance of Peter and Wendy based on the story of Peter Pan by the popular Scottish writer J. M. Barrie.
+Edinburgh International Festival
Dates: Aug. 14 – Sept. 6, 2009
Venues: Royal Lyceum Theatre, The Usher Hall, etc.