At the conclusion of another star-studded Bank of Scotland Herald Angels award ceremony on Saturday, at the end of the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival, the fifth annual Wee Cherub award went to Boroughmuir High School pupil Mairi Power.
Mairi’s review of the opening night of the first Festival appearance by Juilliard Dance from New York was one of four crits from Edinburgh students that was selected to appear in The Herald as part of the Young Critics project with the EIF. She beat Lucy Cairns from Holy Rood High, Malcolm Goodare from Broughton High and Katie Evans from Leith Academy to complete a hat-trick of Boroughmuir successes since the Wee Cherub became the newest of our awards.
Her eloquent acceptance speech came after awards that brought messages from Hungary and Russia to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre.
The week’s Archangel award was accepted by conductor Ivan Fischer with a video message, relayed to our guests via an EIF laptop. Fischer’s Budapest Festival Orchestra first took the Festival by storm in 1997 and was awarded a Herald Angel then, and again in 2008.
Fischer said the he was honoured to accept “the highest of all angels at the best of all festivals”.
“It is not a snobby festival,” he added, “because it has reasonable ticket prices.”
The final Angels of 2012 were graced with the presence of Cinderella. Mariinsky Ballet prima ballerina Diana Vishneva, who would dance the role two hours later on the theatre’s stage, was our guest presenter, alongside Chris Sutton, managing director of Black Horse Motor Finance, representing the sponsors.
She presented an Angel to the technical team of the EIF for their conversion of the Lowland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre in Ingliston into a new venue for this year’s Festival that was home to three theatre productions. EIF artistic director Jonathan Mills paid tribute to John Robb and his team – represented by Helen Gordon, Gemma Swallow, James Gardner and Martin Wooley – for their work.
One of those productions, Theatre du Soleil’s Les Naufrages du Fol Espoir (Aurores), was another winner, with the Angel accepted by leading actor Shaghayegh Beheshti on behalf of the company. The venue also housed 2008: Macbeth, one of three radical versions of Shakespeare that came to Edinburgh as part of the World Shakespeare Festival created as part of the Cultural Olympiad by theatre director Deborah Shaw.
Ms Shaw travelled from London to collect an Angel on behalf of Dmitry Krymov for his A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It), which was at the King’s Theatre.
She brought a message of thanks from Krymov, saying: “Edinburgh International Festival has always been something serious and unattainable for us and were absolutely captured by the openness and cordiality of people working for the Festival.”
The final EIF Angel of the year was awarded to Scottish Opera for the premiere production of Craig Armstrong and Zoe Strachan’s version of Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea, and collected by the company’s Alex Reedijk along with Claire Booth, the soprano who sang the title role. She spoke of the importance, and the rewards, of creating new work in the context of the Festival.
The Traverse theatre presented 12 new works in its Dream Plays (Scenes From A Play I’ll Never Write) season in breakfast readings over a fortnight of the Festival Fringe. An Angel for the initiative, which produced a dozen vibrant pieces of instant theatre, featuring memorable performances, was accepted by one of its architects, the playwright David Greig – himself a former archangel winner – and the theatre’s Linda Crooks, on behalf of artistic director Orla O’Loughlin.
Also no stranger to the awards is the new Summerhall venue. Owner Robert McDowell and artist David Michalek received the sixth and last Bank of Scotland Herald Angel of the week for the international visual art programme on show there, which includes work by both men. Michalek spoke of his gratitude to another nurturer of new work that has quickly made its mark on the global scene.
EIF artistic administrator Matthew Studdert-Kennedy collected the final Little Devil award of 2012, for ensuring that the show goes on, on behalf of clarinettist Yann Ghiro. Ghiro usually occupies the principal’s chair at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra but is currently on tour with the Cleveland Orchestra from the USA. Ghiro was playing a new piece by James MacMillan with the Hebrides Ensemble at Greyfriar’s Kirk when the Cleveland’s bass clarinettist was taken ill. Drafted in at the last minute for the Usher Hall concert immediately after his own, he was then asked to stay with the orchestra for the rest of its European dates. At the weekend he was playing with them for a DVD recording being made at St Florians, Anton Bruckner’s church in the Austrian town of Linz.