Edinburgh in August has always been chaotic, colourful and utterly brilliant. The Fringe brochure can be a little intimidating and it’s best to avoid the Royal Mile if you want to move with anything resembling speed but the world has come to town and for a month anything goes.
I have always spent a great deal of August in the Book Festival and generally spend July eagerly awaiting the arrival of trucks full of tent components in Charlotte Square. Sometimes I go and see old favourites but often I have no idea who I’m about to see until they walk on stage and are introduced. Spending an hour listening to someone talk about their work is a brilliant way to discover people. The events are always interesting and fast paced and it’s always the highlight of my year.
One of the other joys of August is that it allows for mad, one-off events that might not otherwise leave the drawing board. This year marks 50 years of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and they celebrated this anniversary with the RSNO, the Usher Hall, and 59 Productions in The Harmonium Project.
The Festival Chorus and the RSNO recorded Harmonium by John Adams and then on Friday evening it was played in tandem with projections on the exterior of the Usher Hall for a crowd of thousands. I couldn’t get to a view from the front and so ended up round the side, which may have restricted the view but had the advantage of allowing space to breathe and the ability to take photographs without hundreds of heads in the way.
The music was wonderful and even pushed to one side the projections were breath taking. Each of the patterns represented something about the Festival Chorus, faces of singers would appear, lines would dance across showing heart beats or eye movement. The crowd of 20,000 was virtually silent aside from the rise of cheers at the end of each section.
When it was all over I stayed, watching the square slowly empty and taking photographs of the spotlights on the roof twisting into the sky. I always feel lucky to have grown up in Edinburgh but it’s during this summer madness that I am reminded just how wonderful the festival city is.
Eventually I think this blog will become more about writing and life and the quirks of being a PhD student but for now it’s August and reality has been put on hold.