Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Bird is not a Stone: Palestian Voices

Liz Lochhead
Maya Abu al-Hayyat

Liz Lochhead, Scottish maker, Christina De Luca and Maya Abu al-Hayyat, Palestinian poet gave a talk Edinburgh book festival 2014, on their book A Bird is not a Stone, which is in English, Arabic, Gaelic, Scots and Shetlandic. 

Maya Abu al-Hayyat, who is from Palestine and only got her visa to come to the festival a few days before the event, is an engineer, novelist and poet. There was the shared joy for the writers to be sharing such a cross border event, exchanging ideas and appreciating our similarities. Lochhead enjoyment of Maya’s reading of her poems in Arabic was obvious.

After an introduction from Liz on how the project came about and of their trip to the camps and crowded place that is present day Bethlehem, we were given three very eloquent readings first in English by Lochhead, then in lyrical Shetlander from Christina followed by Maya’s emotive readings. It was interesting the different rhythms and feel of the readings and the depth and beauty of the Arabic voice.
With the Shetlander voice, Christina said she wished to get the right tone and earthiness.

The poems were chosen by the Palestinian poets and then translated by 29 of  top Scottish poets( )

The book contains a foreword by Lochhead on their experiences. She spoke of the lack of water for several days and how everyone wanted to reassure them that they were not terrorists. She said, what else but poetry has the beauty and truth to try to cross boundaries. The last poem was about the many ways to smile.

A Bird Is Not A Stone is taken from George Wiley’s words of the birds that flew over the Berlin Wall. This event about a project begun in 2012 is very timely with all the dreadful killings of present day Gaza

Art and poetry voices may try to carry the silent voices across the world of the ordinary people’s lives and of the mothers who wish to watch their children grow up in a world that is not torn in two.
They thought a Scottish poem we might share would be A Man’s a Man For A That. A thoroughly enjoyable book festival event. 

Tom Devine, talk on the Darien Project, Edinburgh International Book festival 2014

Devine, respected Scottish historian, recently knighted gave a highly informed talk on the Darien Project, relevant to Scotland’s referendum question, at Edinburgh International Book festival 2014.

What went wrong? Major mistakes. Devine said that the Darien disaster was over blown and exaggerated and his main claim is that the project failed due to poor leadership and that the proposed location for the colony should have first been properly surveyed. These projects required strict military discipline. He also said that at the time many colonies failed in the Caribbean and in the West, including the first English colony.  

In 1698 five vessels left Leith with 12,000 passengers and travelled north round Scotland to avoid the Royal navy. It is a story of both courage and risks to the Isthmus of Panama.  The Caribbean was then a centre of piracy between France, Spain and England. The company of Scotland wished to trade with Africa and the West Indies. There were vast riches to be made in trade with the Spice Islands and with silks. Denmark acquired a colony there just 3 years before Darien. There was enormous opposition from England and the Bank of England withdrew its investments.

The Darien failure was immense costing thousands of lives who were burned in pits and included leader Paterson’s wife and son. Yet also at the time there were quite often devastating famines and death rates.  The after math of Darien caused a collapse in Scottish confidence and a cold embrace with England in 1707.  He said that there were three main layers around the Darien Disaster if you excavated below the myth. 

(1) Unionist Myth. The Dominance of Unionist thought. That Scotland was a land of darkness, faction and poverty with religious rigidity and was bankrupt.  
(2) Nationalist thought in 1960s and 70s, of historical victimhood – such as the Highland clearances, Glencoe  massacre and the Darien Project. .
(3) Modern Spin – which portrays Darien as a mad face. The Darien project has been distorted. What happened was similar to the banking collapse in recent years. The Discourse of Prebble – victimhood nation, which recycled the feeling of misbelief and Scotland became portrayed as a mass deluded country that was small, poor and helpless.
He said it was wrong to view Scotland as naive and inadequate.  In the 13th and 14th centuries Scotland was very active trading with the European continent. There were 125 Scottish colonies set up and we were notorious at under cutting, with trading centres in Holland such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam. He said that Scotland was not naïve or inexperienced.

After the Union of the Crowns in 1603….., the fact that England did not support the Darien scheme proved to the Scottish that when there was a choice the English government would support English interests. The English refused to provide support, food and succour to the Darien project. At the time England and France were battling to control the Atlantic trade and England was desperate to defend its northern territories. Spain was then in decline.

 After Darien a few were offered full financially compensation plus 43% interest if they agreed to the union, which was analogous with bankers and the RBS scandal of today – and that they then voted for the Union. However Glasgow and the Scottish people were against the Union. The Scottish Law and Church were left to be run in Scotland.
He called the Act of Union an Act of Concession and not one of victimhood or biased prejudices.

PS On Saturday Tom Devine made the announcement that he was voting YES in the Scottish referendum  vote in September. He gave his carefully thought through reasons that he sees  a flowering of the Scottish confidence in recent years.  He feels the union has run its course.

Friday, 15 August 2014

George RR Martins Talk at Edinburgh

I am a writer who likes to ask questions. He said he liked to do things that some thought couldn’t’ be done and he liked to break the rules. 
RR Martin brought his spirit of fantasy with him to Edinburgh yesterday. He was spirited in the side gate by his lady helpers to Edinburgh International, Book Festival 2014,and smiled for his photo shoot on the festival walkway.  He has silver white hair and beard and could be one of the characters in his writing.  .

A younger than usual crowd packed into his talk, when he spoke of how Scotland and Scottish history had informed his epic Game of Thrones, now a massively successful HBO tv series.
He spoke with Booker prize judge and literary critic Stuart Kelly, of a visit in ‘81 to Hadrian’s wall, on a cold grey October in the late evening, when he thought of all the Roman legionaries posted there and how it might have seemed the end of the world to them. This later became his Wall of Ice, He also spoke of famous Scottish women who were often Queen Regents to 3 year old kings – such as Lady MacBeth, Mary Queen of Scots. Other Scottish stories have also inspired his writing - the Glencoe Massacre, (the Red wedding) and the writer Walter Scott. He was particularly interested in medieval history and its blood thirsty side.

Martin started out writing science fiction, with a horror twist – such as the Sand Kings. 
He thought since Tolkien that most were writing in a Disneyland style of fantasy. He liked to explore the grittiness of history.

One of his main motivations Martin said, was strong characters who wrestle with the issues. He asked what are their motivations, what is their culture?  Writing about a villain can be fun and looking at their dimensions and motivations. His books are infused with moral realism and he said that he enjoyed writing about broken things – outcasts, bastards as there is more drama and that conflict is the heart of drama.
He was asked about the locations in his books. He spoke of growing up in New Jersey, between 1st street and 5th street and of how he escaped in fantasy to Gotham, Middle Earth and with HG Wells. 

He said , I lived a thousand lives in the pages of books.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Small Beginnings are what bring about Changes

It is only in small beginnings that change can occur. Some think they can bring about changes through some trickle down effect via the big London machine – can we believe this? I think not. It is only through small places that real changes can be made.

When the Union occurred Scotland kept its Church and Law as the two most important institutions.  Then the main domestic policies were then decided by the courts. With the advent of more democracy the Parliaments became more important.   

This Scottish independence referendum  is NOT about boundaries, nationalism or religious divides.
It is about self determination and autonomy and devolving power and better governance that works for Scotland. London's economic policies are NOT in Scotland's best interests.  We have one of the highest levels of child poverty and the divide between the rich and the poorest is only widening here. 

The change Scotland seeks is similar to the autonomy that has seen both Norway and Finland flourish since they both broke away form Swedish control and became independent a hundred years ago. Both countries continue to trade and work with other countries worldwide.

Scotland is much older than the UK – over 900 years! The UK is a newer country so they will need to apply to be members of the EU!  
Scotland WANTS to work with and to welcome its neighbours. The reason Scotland should be independent is because the UK system and Westminster is not working. We can do better!

I hope we can have a better relationship and a more equal partnership with the other parts of these British Islands. The Unionists are not silent either - over 90% of the media is controlled by Unionists. It is therefore hard for the Yes believers to get their voice heard.

In the 70s there was a great deal of bad feeling in Scotland – some of it due to the Scottish oil money being lost. Since then we have been allowed a Scottish Parliament which I believe has made Scottish people feel somewhat better and we are now able to decide if we want to be able to offer all young people the chance of university education …. and not just the privileged few. .  

We might believe that governments in London will offer improvements?  Well I've waited decades for that.................My belief is that change usually happens in a small way – I cannot see how any changes can happen in Westminster that will then flow to the rest of the country. There is no desire for change in the south of England that I can see. Why should there be? In a centralised country it suits the south to have things stay the same. . with corruption and its tiny favoured elite. 

To have confidence in our future matters hugely. As Nick Barley director of Edinburgh International book festival writes, " We hope that this year's Book festival will help readers and writers of all ages to think about and  discuss how to act positively upon the understanding generated by dialogue. The future of Scotland is in our hands." 
In such a forum, admissions fo uncertainty are acceptable.. Changes of mind are encouraged. Imaginative leaps are recommended.”,

The important issue is that we are able to air different views in a way that we are not shouted down. Also – that the discussions are not about celebrities on artificial pedestals, but rather about the grassroots where everyone is free to have a voice.  For me the Scottish questions are one of confidence in our future and in shaping our future country.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Edinburgh Book Festival 2014

I look forward to another book festival and fringe shows in Edinburgh this August, for its illuminating talks and world famous writers, for its diversity and colour.

It is about the spoken and written word and the Edinburgh International book festival this year will host ‘Dialogue’ events. Director Nick Barley wants the festival to be an impartial platform for discussion and to encourage free speech.
There are events on the questions in the trouble middle east region today, as well as the imminent Scottish Referendum in September.

The important issue is that we are able to air different views in a way that we are not shouted down.
Also – that the discussions are not about celebrities on artificial pedestals, but rather about the grassroots where everyone is free to have a voice. For me the Scottish questions are one of confidence in our future and in shaping our future country.

For several years the festival has offered a place for writers who are unable to be heard and prevented from speaking by their government – the Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Conference.  

Having confidence in our future matters hugely. As Nick Barley writes, " We hope that this year's Book festival will help readers and writers of all ages to think about and  discuss how to act positively upon the understanding generated by dialogue. The future of Scotland is in our hands."

Scottish poets have linked to Palestinian voices for the book ‘A Bird is not a Stone’ and Liz Lochhead chairs this event at this years festival.
Often artists can offer images much stronger than mere speeches – through the soul of poetry….

Last year beautiful paper sculptures were given to the festival was a gift.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony

Glasgow’s golden games proved more than friendly or about people – they brought out the best in both the athletes, all those involved in the years of planning and in the spirit of the Clydesiders, who smiled their hello welcomes and gave up their time to make the games such a success.

The ceremony thanked all those involved and all those thousands of volunteers. Scotland showed its generosity with over 5m raised for UNICEF.  Sport brings us together and ignores both political and religious divides.

The Hampden Park was decked out in colourful tents and flags for the closing ceremony party.  Scottish songsmith and soul singer Lulu gave her well kent “Shout” to start the party off. Deacon Blue followed with “Dignity” as those services who worked for the games entered the stadium.   

Lord Smith of Kelvin spoke of the successful games and thanked all involved. He said that Glasgow would never forget the Games. HRH Prince Imran gave the David Dickson award to 
rhythmic gymnast from Wales, Frankie Jones, was honoured with Athlete of the Games for her inspiring others. When he mentioned Team Scotland there was a truly long Hampden roar!  And he said that Glasgow was “Pure dead brilliant!”

The Commonwealth Games flag was passed on the Australian Goldcoast as Gaelic singer Karen Matheson sang the haunting farewell Burns song “Ae Fond Kiss”. The Goldcoast is a stark contrast with surfing and golden beaches – I am certain a fun place for wonderful holiday trips.  After which Australian Kylie Minogue performed a colourful set of her hit songs with her dancers. 

The weather may not always be perfect here in Scotland but peoples’ hearts are true. We have a rich and varied heritage and when Dougie MacLean sang "Caledonia" the voices of the packed crowd rang around the stadium as hearts swelled with warm heartfelt pride in the beauty and possibilities of our country. Dougie always encourages everyone to sing along, which for me is what music is all about. ..or used to be anyway. The ceremony closed of course with Dougie, Kylie, Lulu and the athletes and crowd singing Auld Lang Syne.
As we left the stadium the catering staff were all dancing and singing too. Glasgow loves a party! .

And do the Games leave a legacy? They were an inspiration to see the young people reach their goals after years of hard work.

Sometimes Glasgow sits in Edinburgh’s shadow so it was wonderful to see the city on the world stage give us such proud games.  “Haste Ye Back” as Glasgow said good bye
Thanks to Glasgow for the most successful games yet!

I was a little concerned that those of us who support Scottish independence were told to keep quiet during the games. So I took my YES badge off....What about free speech and all? 
UK Defence minister Michael Fallon insisted the red arrows flew red, white and blue  over Glasgow's opening ceremony - even though as a good will gesture the arrows flew Scotland's blue and white colours when the Queen visited for the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. 

Quote Ian Bell Scottish Sunday Herald.  "For forms sake we should keep score. The Red Arrows lie; the Tollcross incident (lady with a yes flag asked to leave); the two-faced flags with Union Jack on one side Saltire on the other; that bit of censorship on Glasgow Green (no yes badges); those acts of petty propaganda and small minded authoritarianism cant' be pinned on Yes campaigners. Only two of the four can be traced to Games organisers and their terms and conditions.  
Flags don't matter much to me but this sort of thing could make me change my mind. The contrast with the 2012 Olympics remains entertaining still. Which unionist politician didn't use those games to spread the gospel of Better Together at every opportunity and assail anyone who dared to disagree? Then as now , they were dashed unsporting."   

As the referendum in September hung over the event people seemed surprised that Scotland cheered the English athletes.  It can be hard for Scotland's voice to be heard and the media is controlled in London.  We have kept our own Law, church and education since the Union, which was not popular then.  Scotland is a much older country than the UK. It is important that Scotland works for the best interest of those who live here .   

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Are the Commonwealth Games Political?

I believe it is impossible to separate sport and politics. The Commonwealth games were initially called The British Empire Games.Even the flag waving is political.

At the Opening Ceremony for Glasgow 2014 there was controversy over the Red Arrows flying the red, white and blue colours of the Union jack amid the debate over the Scottish Referendum due in 2 months time in September. The organisers believed they would fly the Scottish flag of blue and white but in a last minute change the Red Arrows team were told no. It would have been a more generous gesture to allow the blue and white colours – after all the Red Arrows have flown the colours of many other flags.

The Queen attended the opening ceremony and we sang God Save the Queen at Celtic Park – quite a strange thing in itself.

Of course the Games are political.
With the Referendum hanging over the proceedings the crowd cheered the English athlete, perhaps surprising the international audience. 

Scotland's imperial past is evident in the names of some of the Jamaican athletes - and with Jennifer Stirling who carried in the baton to the Opening ceremony. 

The song Freedom Come All Ye by Hamish Henderson, which was sung at the Opening ceremony, was a fitting choice as the song speaks of winds of change and sweeping away exploitation and imperialism - and looks to an inclusive and co-operative future. The song is a product of the 60s Scottish folk revival. 

Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens at Ibrox

Ibrox proved a perfect stadium for the rugby with it’s intimate tiered seating bringing the rugby closer.
There was a great atmosphere here with the packed crowd with the load roar of the crowd and the chanting for U-gan-da and Barbados – Scotland always loves the underdog! 

Celtic Park meanwhile proved an ideal setting for the Opening ceremonies. Glasgow had taken the games to heart and the events have enjoyed packed and enthusiastic crowds.

Hampden (normally a football stadium also) has been ideal for the athletics offering ideal views and atmosphere.    
Another memory is all those volunteers who gave up their time to support the games in their red and grey outfits. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony

A Few Images Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony
Glasgow's golden summer begins!

An event for all on a perfect sunny July day there were many festivities at the Glasgow opening ceremony – headlined with Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle, Nicola Benedetti and more to welcome all the athletes to Glasgow’s games..

I caught this fun photo of a young Scot enjoying the occasion with his Scottish flag just outside Celtic park! All great fun!
Highlights for me were Nicola Benedetti, the Scottish pipers and the Scottish ballet dancing to the Proclaimers song ‘I Would Walk Ten Thousand Miles’ and more Scottish flavours with Julie Fowlis who sang a beautiful Gaelic song

The event ranged from twee musical to everyday busking and singing on Glasgow’s city streets. There was also nostalgic pageantry and historic symbolism from Scotland’s history and of Hamish Henderson's poetic words of equality for all with Freedom Come Ye All, along with a mention of Glasgow’s being the first city to offer Nelson Mandela the freedom of the city. Film director David Puttman mentioned that in 1835 the women of Glasgow marched against slavery. An event on this scale also made history and asked those attending to text to UNICEF which raised million as the lights lit up on phones. 

The ceremony included a few firsts – the first time having the countries enter the stadium by continents worked well and each country was led in by a wee Scottie dog with their short legs racing and this was a hit with everyone!   The Queen read out the Queen’s Baton’s message which had travelled through all the Commonwealth countries since last October with a message of  friendship and hope. 

The choices of symbolism and those taking part was all to ensure a carefully thought through quilted patchwork of Scotland's image, both present and past, to the wider world. 
Music is one of Scotland's biggest exports and the concert included contemporary music such as Calvin Harris and new band Chvrches. I might have wished to see Biffy Clyro or Dougie MacLean or the Proclaimers - perhaps they might rock the closing ceremony? Scotland's imperial past was made evident in the names of the Jamaican athletes - and with Jennifer Stirling who carried in the baton.  

The song Freedom Come All Ye was a fitting choice as the song speaks of winds of change and sweeping away exploitation and imperialism - and looks to an inclusive and co-operative future. The song is a product of the 60s Scottish folk revival.  

For me a downside was that at times each segment felt so fleeting and fast, if you were not paying enough attention you would have missed it - for the generation of the short attention span!  All in all quite an occasion though.

PLUS - 23rd July Opening Parties -  
PARTY Glasgow Green – Lulu, Rab Noakes, Eddi Reader,
Kelvingrove Bandstand – Belle & Sebastian.

ALSO 31st JULY, Glasgow Green – King Creoste, album From Scotland With Love released 21st Jluy. Film of the same name with live musical accompaniment, part of CULTURE 2014.

25th July - New Music Biennial with Lau and other composers – Royal Concert hall .

Glasgow's Miles Better

Glaswegians have had a big chip on their shoulders over many decades which hopefully today is in the past. Glasgow is the city that built the ships with great shipbuilding yard. On the Clyde river there are abandoned buildings and ghosts form the past.  They helped build an Empire and then as a reward had their industries closed and with no  investment in future businesses

In the 80s Glasgow Provost Kelly knew something had to change and taking from New York city's drive to rebuild the city with 'We Love New York', the slogan 'Glasgow's Miles Better' was introduced on a yellow Mr Happy background and was then followed by 'People Make Glasgow'
Glasgow saw the importance of investing in sport and culture in defining a nation.
This has helped to shape modern Glasgow which has regenerated and re packed itself successfully and the city believed it could successfully bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. 

I discovered a Glasgow rich in culture, character, in music, outstanding venues and with many small venues for the new artists. In the 50s American sailors brought in their blues and rock records (just as they did to Liverpool) and resulted in Scottish sounds mixing with country and rock and roll. 
I have travelled many extraordinary journeys in Glasgow in the grey light over the Clyde river, by the university's imposing spires, the tall graceful elegance of Rennie Mackinotosh’s art school, the long shadows on Sauchiehall street and across the city's steep hills. 

I originally come from Edinburgh and have lived abroad many years in America and I now live north of Glasgow.  My children all attended Glasgow University. In my teens I used to travel over to Glasgow clubs and it often seemed a rather dark place. Now the buildings have been cleaned up and rejuvenated. It is a city of great heritage and surprises and you never know when a building of impressive architectural merit will appear as if from nowhere. 

I once covered a fashion event at the imposing Corinthian on Ingram Street along from the Italian shops,  the charm of the Merchant city, the City halls and the Old Fruitmarket venues. If you look there are many hidden treasures on Glasgow's side streets.Both the Concert hall and the Theatre Royal have been under going recent building improvements. 

Glaswegians never take themselves too seriously though and there is a true creative freedom of expression here where nothing can possibly be too wacky or off centre!  It may once have been the city of fallen hopes but it seems today there is a rebirth of dreams and renewed confidence once again.     

 The city of fallen dreams

The city of fallen dreams
Of no tomorrows,
Of ancestors rich homes,
Cathedral spires
And the fast
Highway of speeding lights.

On the hilltop sits the proud university
Solid and tall
A small cloud on its rooftop.

Far off in the dull distance
High-rises of fallen flats
Boxes of lights.
I watch the clear slow grey of the Clyde river
As it winds slowly through
Momentarily its story shifting,
With every bend
Every look.

Beside me the modern, the new,
Tell of the future,
Fast, ever changing
And the old faces the new.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

SAY Award

2014 -  Young Fathers - Tape 2
2013  -  RM Hubbert - Thirteen Lost and Found
2012 -  Aiden Moffat & Bill Wells - Everything's Getting older 

Scottish artists and musicians no longer need to travel and live in London, perhaps because the world wide web brings us all closer than ever before. 

This Scottish Album of the Year Award is for some of the top innovative new music in Scotland.
The style ranges from indie, hip-hop, rock, electronica and flamenco guitar.

Nominated Scottish Artists in 2014
Edwyn Collins – Understated (4AD)
Biffy Clyro – Opposites (14th Floor)
Chvrches - The Bones Of What you Believe (Virgin)
Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp)
Hector Bizerk - Nobody See Nothing (self released)
Mogwai - Les Revenant (Rock Action)
Steve Mason - Monkey Minds in the Dark (Double Six)
The Pastels - Slow Sonnets (Domino)
Young Fathers - Tape 2 (Auticon)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Greatest Singers

Roberta Flack

John Lennon- Stand By Me
Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly
Willie Nelson- Always On My Mind
Dick Gaughan - Both Sides The Tweed
Rab Noakes - Moonlight and Gold
Adele -   Make You Feel My Love
Chrissie Hyde - Angel of the Morning
Rolling Stones - Like A Rolling Stone
Frank Sinatra - Send in the Clowns

The Greatest Singers (for me) - oddly the above cover songs!  Plus Joni Mitchell and her dramatic voice, Otis Redding's soul tones and Bob Dylan, for his questioning voice.  I also adore Sandy Denny’s singing her own song, Who Knows Where the Time Goes.  

My favourite music is the accomplished singer songwriter and there is something deeply connected and moving about a singer performing their own personal songs.  Some of the greatest voices are singer songwriters and I enjoy the depth and range of their albums.
There are also some wonderful cover songs and artists learn a great deal from the right covers, just as the painter begins by imitating the great masters he most admires. And actually that is the key thing in this mystery, being able to discover the right art and the right covers to sing and to interpret them with your own voice and in a sense to give them something different and new. 

So there are these stand-out songs covered by outstanding singers (my personal favourites listed above). While I may not listen to their albums and as so much depends on the right arrangements, production and musicians a singer has backing them on any recording.  I realise this is a personal list and I know there are many other wonderful covers.  I adore and listen often to these performances of these very special songs. 

Which brings up the question - what makes one singer also an artist? Sinatra was a true artist and interpreter of song with the subtle way he was able to control emotion with his voice.

Roberta Flack
Of all the soul singers out there I have to give a special mention to the voice of Roberta Flack. I was interested to discover recently that she was classically trained and that he mother was a music teacher, because you can hear many influences in her singing. Her voice is creatively moving in a way few others can match.  Roberta studied piano accompanying and to interpret and rearrange music.  Roberta taught music over several years.  

At 31 Roberta started playing at Mr Henry's after  ten years of teaching music. Her voice can reach a spot that can only be described as blissful.  She comes from a different tradition than other soul singers and she mixed up the genres.  She gave the song a sharper pulse and more open with her vocal, pushing it along as she let it stretch and soar.   

Then in Clint Eastwood's debut movie ‘Play Misty For Me’ he played Roberta’s  awesome version of Ewan McColls song, The First time Ever I Saw Your Face in which version she used a slower tempo which was more lyrical with her unique vocal gymnastics.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Scottish Festivals ...

Scottish Festivals ...
Seek to engage, challenge, entertain and to ensure quality of standard, musicianship, writing, diversity, colour and more.

*East Neuk classical music festival 10th Edition – 27th June – 6th July   
Situated in intimate venues on the coastal villages of Fife, with German pianist Christian Zacharias and with trios, sopranos and chamber groups. This year will celebrate the 19th century Viennese composer Franz Schubert.


*Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival – 18th – 27th July
This year with Van Morrison and Jool Holland, as well as renowned jazz artists from across the world.  Edinburgh Jazz Festival was set up in 1978 by banjo-player and guitarist, Mike Hart. Mike's initial focus was on traditional jazz and a host of events taking place for free admission in pubs. There is a Princes Street parade, The Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket and Jazz On A Summers Day in Princes Street Gardens which are free events. Regular visitors are Buddy Tate, Warren Vache, The Black Eagles Jazz Band and the Hot Antic Jazz Band. The Festival's artistic policy has been to concentrate on musical excellence (rather than the "star system") and to champion spontaneous creativity: music making on the spot in Edinburgh. These have been developed with the production of a wide range of new music, the establishment of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra, and an on-going commitment to supporting Scottish musicians to realise creative ideas, and to link with international musicians.

*Edinburgh International Festival- August 2014
The Big One! The oldest arts festival.
Edinburgh buzzes for the month of August when some locals leave and others enjoy watching for the good reviews and for the next big shows.

For the visitor it is worth walking around (faster often than by bus) from the Under Belly beside George Square and the university, down past to the Royal mile where there are many shows on display (very busy at the weekends) – then down the mound worth it for the spectacular vista from Edinburgh’s castle and gardens and on past the Art galleries (where there are often packed crowds for the fire eating street performers and jugglers). Take a left turn down Princes Street and into parallel George Street and before long you see the white tents of Edinburgh’s book festival where many world famous authors descend for the two middle weeks and by contrast offers a place for reflection and more considered entertainment. .

Flyers, colour and spectacle are everywhere on the streets in a vast celebration. As the festival offers every type of arts, I find it interesting to see the crossovers between the arts. To find music such as Nile Rogers who gave a highly interesting and spontaneous talk at the book festival, with dance exploring new mediums and expression through mime, visuals and illusion such as the show Leo.

Edinburgh Fringe. 1 – 25 August. There is everything to sample here with over around 3,000 shows.
The Fringe developed from the main festival, particularly expanding into comedy, such as Cambridge footlights where many well known comedians first got their big break. Nearly any available space is used over the city.

Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF) 9 – 25 August. The world’s largest book festival began in 1983 and is held at Charlotte Square, Edinburgh’s westend, with children’s events and a wide diversity of novelists, journalists, economists, scientists, poets, musicians, historians, and politicians. The festival includes debates and evening Unbound shows.

Edinburgh International Art Festival, 31 July – 31 August.

Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) 8 – 21 August.  The main event and the world’s oldest festival. It focuses on the high brow and world class theatre, opera, dance and music. The festival is all embracing.