EIF opener – free ticket details

Jun 25 2018 | By More

15,000 free tickets for EIF Opening Event

15,000 free tickets are to be made available online for Five Telegrams, the opening event of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival on Friday 3 August 2018 at 10.30pm.

The tickets will be available from the EIF website this coming Monday, 2 July, from 10am. A further limited allocation of tickets will be available in person from 10am on Monday 30 July 2018.

Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event 2018 Five Telegrams. EIF Visualisation Credit- 59 Productions

Visualisation of Five Telegrams. Visualisation credit: 59 Productions

The Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams is an outdoor performance created by composer Anna Meredith and 59 Productions. A co-commission with 14-18 NOW, it examines communications during the First World War.

It will debut at the opening night of the BBC Proms in London on Thursday July 12, before marking the official opening of Edinburgh’s festival season on August 3.

Inspired by themes of communication including telegrams sent by young soldiers in 1918, Five Telegrams weaves a newly commissioned orchestral score, projected digital artworks and live participation together to consider themes of machines and codes, censorship, propaganda and reconciliation – ideas that resonate powerfully in contemporary life.

The illuminations see 59 Productions return to the Usher Hall, the site of its first EIF collaboration in 2015. They will once again use its exterior walls as a canvas for large-scale illuminations and projections.

five movements

Lothian Road will be closed off, allowing audiences to experience the event from a dedicated arena in Festival Square. This year’s opening event includes a live performance element for the first time, with a flashmob of local young people bringing Five Telegrams to life within the Square.

Anna Meredith, EIF, Usher Hall Pic Ian Georgeson

Anna Meredith in front of the Usher Hall. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Five Telegrams is a 25 minute work in five movements, bringing together a symphony orchestra, youth chorus, and large-scale illuminations and projections.

Anna Meredith and Richard Slaney from 59 Productions researched the project during visits to The Imperial War Museum to explore different kinds of communications used in 1914-18. They then brought them under five themes.

Each of the five movements reflects on a different mode of communication used during the period of the First World War and how that resonates today

Ciphers & Codes will explore visual codes, Morse code, code breaking, Room 40 and the Zimmerman telegram, semaphore and trench codes – informing the musical rhythm and beats which link with the projected imagery.

In Redaction, censorship and the containment of communication is explored. It examines the loss of personality and character in communications sent home from the field by soldiers due to the reduction and redaction of personal communication.


Propaganda & News Reporting shows the disparity between reality and public communications both historically and in current media. It provides room for the layering of material where the real truth of a story could be buried and later revealed.

Field Postcards & Personal Communications looks at text in personal communications, censored or anonymised by the State. This provides inspiration for choral moments and the sound of young voices alongside the visual texts.

Armistice marks the end of the conflic, noting the sense of ‘what next?’ and the colossal loss of young lives. Musically, it will build towards an anti-climactic cessation of fighting with a decisive change of landscape at that point in the piece.

The event is a co-commission between the International Festival, 14-18 NOW the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary and BBC Proms, sponsored by Aberdeen Standard Investment.

Edinburgh is Anna Meredith’s home town and the scene of many 59 Productions’ successes, marking a homecoming and a coming together this August.

Listing & links

Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams
Festival Square, Lothian Road, EH2 9SR
Friday 3 August 2018
One performance only: 10.30pm.
Free tickets will be available to book online from eif.co.uk from 10.00am on Monday 2 July.
An additional very limited allocation will be available to collect in person from The Hub, Castlehill, EH1 2NE from 10.00am on Monday 30 July.

EIF Website: eif.co.uk
Event Facebook page: www.facebook.com
EIF Twitter: @edintfest
Event Hashtag:  #FiveTelegrams


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