The Edinburgh Festival closed in spectacular style on the 27 Aug with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a dazzling array of fireworks set against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.
The Festival Season is reliant on the hard work and careful organisation of thousands of people, and this event truly embodies this. The estimated 250,000 people entering Princes Street Gardens are filed in carefully, managing to provide a safe atmosphere without ever being invasive.
The extent of the Gardens means there is plenty of room to spread out and find a spot, with a casual and friendly atmosphere created by the lack of urgency and availability of space. Sitting on folding chairs, coats and blankets, families spread out picnics, with many lying down to take in the full surroundings.
The concert opens with tenor Nicky Spence singing Maria, his powerful voice mingling expertly with the full-bodied sound of the orchestra. The tribute to Leonard Bernstein in celebration of the 100th year since his birth is gentle, contemplative and beautiful, focusing on the more romantic and slower songs from the musical. Spence and soprano Lucy Crowe sing wonderfully in solo and duet, traversing the well-known songs and adding a more classical and operatic flair to the songs. An energy is created with Somewhere and Tonight, Tonight building momentum leading up to the eagerly anticipated fireworks. This section is well timed and offers a touching and emotional tribute.
As the concert moves on seamlessly to the second segment a voiceover gives a brief introduction to Holst’s The Planets and before each composition provides an explanation and background to the pieces. It helps make the performance and the classical music in general more understandable and accessible as well as adding an extra layer to the fireworks, showing how the colour and type of firework relates to the themes behind the music.
The fireworks themselves are awe-inspiring, perfectly timed with the music from the powerful and militaristic red explosions symbolising “Mars” to the playful multi-coloured flares dancing in time to “Uranus”. The display ends with a huge array of white and silver explosions which dazzles and is an apt ending to the energetic, ambitious and endlessly entertaining Festival.
As the spectators file out onto Princes Street, there is a lingering sense of excitement but also a calm. As the frenzy of the Festival season ends there is a moment of quiet contemplation when the lights around the castle fade.